PMLA case: Chhattisgarh IAS officer remanded in judicial custody | Latest News India

A special court on Thursday sent an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and two others to 14-day judicial custody in a money laundering case linked to alleged extortion of money from coal and mining transporters in Chhattisgarh.

On October 11, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi, local businessman Sunil Agrawal and advocate Laxmikant Tiwari after the federal agency launched raids in various cities of the state.

After their 14-day ED custody expired on Thursday, the accused were produced before the court of additional district and sessions judge Ajay Singh Rajput, Tiwari’s lawyer Faizal Rizvi said.

“The court sent the three accused to 14-day judicial custody,” said Rizvi. “We are yet to decide the future course of action.”

On October 13, the court had allowed the custodial interrogation of the trio by ED for eight days and extended the same for six more days on October 21. The accused have been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In a statement issued on October 14, ED had claimed that a “massive scam” was taking place in coal transportation in Chhattisgarh, under which a “cartel” of politicians, officers and others was running a “parallel system of extorting illegal levy”, generating about 2-3 crore daily.

A 2009-batch IAS officer from Chhattisgarh cadre, Vishnoi was previously posted as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (CHiPS).

ED also made a submission before the court while seeking further custody of Vishnoi that payments worth 100 crore were recovered from the premises of CHiPS during a “search operation” on October 18.

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The former CEO of CHiPS had signed several cheques without following due procedure but was “evasive” in his responses during the probe, ED has claimed. Vishnoi and his wife were found in possession of “unaccounted” cash to the tune of 47 lakh and 4 kg gold jewellery, it added.

Vishnoi’s lawyer had earlier dismissed the ED’s claims as “baseless”.

According to officials, lawyer Laxmikant Tiwari is the uncle of coal businessman Suryakant Tiwari, whose properties were also covered during searches carried out by ED at the former’s residence in Mahasamund town. Suryakant Tiwari is stated to be absconding.

Agrawal, director of the Indermani Group, which is involved in coal trading, is said to be closely associated with Suryakant Tiwari.

(With agency inputs)

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