Rabri Devi (R) and Lalu Prasad Yadav (L). (Source: PTI)

Enforcement Directorate Files Chargesheet Against Lalu, Rabri In IRCTC Money Laundering Case

The Enforcement Directorate filed its first chargesheet against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi, and others in connection with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation hotels allotment money laundering case, officials said.

The agency has also named Prasad’s son and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, his party colleague Prem Chand Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta, a firm Lara Projects and 10 others in the prosecution complaint filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act before a special court.

The agency said Prasad and IRCTC officials allegedly misused their position for granting sub-lease of the rights of two railway hotels at Puri and Ranchi to Ms Sujata Hotel Pvt. Ltd. owned by Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels).

In lieu of the hotels sub-lease, 358 decimal of prime plot of land in Patna was transferred to Ms Delight Marketing Company Pvt Ltd., a company owned by family of PC Gupta who is a close associate of Prasad, in February 2005 at a rate which was much less than the then prevailing circle rates. Subsequently, the shares of Ms Delight Marketing Company, it said, were acquired by Rabri Devi and Tejashwi at less than fair market value.

The Enforcement Directorate said it attached assets worth over Rs 44 crore in this case till now. It is investigating the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, according to officials.

A Central Bureau of Investigation FIR had alleged that Lalu Prasad, during his tenure as the railway minister in UPA-I government, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company in 2004 after receiving a bribe in the form of a prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta, the wife of PC Gupta, who was also a former Union minister.

The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as “quid pro quo”.

Others named in the CBI FIR include the Kochhars, Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director PK Goel.