The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached a farmhouse in New Delhi, with a market value of Rs 27 crore, in connection with its money laundering probe against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others.
The agency alleged the property in the upmarket south Delhi area of Dera Mandi near Mehrauli was purchased "out of laundered money through a shell firm" in which Singh’s son holds a major stake.
It said that the funds were paid as quid pro quo by the director of a Delhi-based firm for establishing a hydro power plant in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district.
The agency issued a provisional order attaching the farmhouse under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and said while the book value of the asset is Rs 6.61 crore, its market value is Rs 27.29 crore as per a valuation done by the Income Tax department.
Farmhouse Was Purchased With Rs 5.41 Cr in Cash
The farmhouse, it said, is in the name of Maple Destinations and Dreambuild, in which Singh's son Vikramaditya is a major shareholder and his daughter Aprajita a minor shareholder. Both are also listed as directors of the firm, it said.
"The farmhouse was purchased for Rs 1.20 crore as per registry value. The payment was made by two cheques of Rs 15 lakh each (Rs 30 lakh) and two cheques of Rs 45 lakh each (Rs 90 lakh),” the ED said.
The investigation further revealed that a sum of Rs 5.41 crore was paid in cash to purchase the farmhouse.
The ED had attached assets valued at Rs 7.93 crore in this case in March last year and with this latest order, the total attachments in the case stand at Rs 35.22 crore.
Congress Had Called CBI Case 'Political Vendetta'
The latest ED action comes close on the heels of the CBI filing a charge sheet against Singh, a six-time Chief Minister, and his wife and others for allegedly amassing assets worth around Rs 10 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income.
The ED had filed a criminal case under the PMLA against the 82-year-old Congress leader and others in 2015 based on a CBI FIR.
The CBI filed a charge sheet against Singh, his wife and others in DA case in a Delhi court on 31 March. The Congress has ruled out the removal of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister following the CBI charge sheet.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had said last week that there was "nothing to worry about" in the case as it was done out of "political vendetta" and that Singh would fight it out and emerge victorious.
The BJP has demanded Singh’s resignation, asserting that he has become a "symbol of corruption".