New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS): Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday sought three weeks' time to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Prevention of Money Laundering case pertaining to illegal mining and extortion in Jharkhand and Bihar.
Sources in the ED claimed that Soren has written a letter to the probe agency seeking time to attend a few programmes.
Soren was summoned by the ED to join the investigation on Thursday, but he skipped the questioning.
The federal agency had also written a letter to Jharkhand Police Commissioner for appropriate security arrangements ahead of his questioning.
"There was a cheque signed by Mr Soren which was found by us during the recent raid. He also allegedly misused his position and granted a lease," the sources said.
Recently, the ED had filed a Prosecution Complaint (charge sheet) before a Special Ranchi court against Pankaj Mishra, Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash, all said to be close to the Jharkhand CM.
The court has already taken the cognisance of the chargesheet.
During investigation of the case, as many 47 searches were conducted throughout India on several dates resulting in the seizure of cash amounting to Rs 5.34 crore, freezing of bank balances amounting to Rs 13.32 crore, freezing of an inland vessel MV Infralink -III, reg. No- WB 1809, 5 number of stone crushers, two nos. of Hyva trucks besides the seizure of incriminating documents along with two numbers of AK 47 Assault Rifles, the probe agency said.
Earlier, the ED had arrested Pankaj Mishra, Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash who are in judicial custody.
The ED initiated money laundering investigation on the basis of the FIR registered by Barharwa Police Station, Sahibganj District, Jharkhand under various sections of IPC, against Mishra and others.
Later, several FIRs regarding illegal mining lodged under IPC, Explosive substances Act, Arms Act have also been taken into the ambit of scheduled offence.
Till date, the ED has identified POC relating to illegal mining to the tune of more than Rs 1000 crore in this case.
PMLA Investigation revealed that Mishra, who enjoys political clout being the representative of the Chief Minister, controls the illegal mining businesses as well as inland ferry services in Sahebganj and its adjoining areas through his accomplices.
"He exercises considerable control over the mining of stone chips and boulders as well as installation and operations of several crushers, set up across various mining sites in Sahebganj. Proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 42 crore acquired by Mishra have been identified till date," said the ED official.
Further investigation in the matter is on.