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Posted at: Jan 13, 2018, 1:29 AM; last updated: Jan 13, 2018, 1:29 AM (IST)

ED asks VB to quantify irrigation scam loss

To uncover money trail, formal case may follow

Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 12

The multi-crore Punjab irrigation scam now has another investigator. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated its probe by asking the state Vigilance Bureau to furnish specific details of loss caused to the state exchequer in the much publicised case.

The VB is investigating the scam, in which the involvement of senior bureaucrats is suspected. The bureau has already arrested the main accused, contractor Gurinder Singh, who has worked on 35 major projects and is being investigated for inappropriate use of funds.

Gurinder Singh, according to officials, was also suspected to have transferred Rs 5 crore to Jatin Garg, a cousin of Sahil Singla, who is one of the two managing partners of Rajbir Enterprisers. Sahil is a son of Triloki Nath Singla, said to be a chartered accountant of state Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh. This had triggered speculation over whether Gurinder Singh also financed sand mining auction bids of two employees of Rana Gurjit Singh, including his cook Amit Bahadur.

The e-auction for sand mines took place on May 19-20 last year and May 23 was the last date to make payments to get possession of the sites. Soon after Gurinder Singh transferred money to Garg on May 23, the latter transferred it to the account of Rajbir Enterprises, the firm that had claimed they had financed Bahadur and another employee of Rana Gurjit, Kulwinderpal Singh, to participate in the mining auctions.

The money transfer, however, took place much before Gurinder Singh, said to have been close to a couple of senior Akali leaders, was booked by the VB for his alleged role in the irrigation scam.

The ED in its January 8 letter to the Vigilance Bureau has cited FIR No. 10, dated August 17, 2017, supplied by the VB to the ED on January 4.

“It is noticed that in many instances of unlawful tender allotment (as per annexure), specific loss to exchequer is not clear. Thus, it is requested that suitable directions may be passed to the Investigating Officer to arrange to provide the loss of exchequer either in absolute value or in terms of % of the total tender value (to the extent possible)/unlawful gain to Gurinder Singh contractor, including his companies, in each instance of unlawful tender allotment and execution. The said information shall be required for further processing the matter under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002,” the ED has told the Vigilance Bureau.

The move is believed to be aimed at tracking the trail of money from any misappropriation. It is part of a preliminary investigation into the matter, which may be followed with the registration of a formal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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