Lucknow, March 8 : The Enforcement Directorate (ED) which confronted former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati with the bank accounts linked to him and his sons Anurag Prajapati and Anil Prajapati has said it led to revelation of several "suspicious transactions".
Prajapati is currently lodged in a prison in connection with a rape case.
The ED had registered a case of money laundering in 2019 against Prajapati and others on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI into alleged irregularities in the renewal of sand mining leases in Uttar Pradesh's Fatehpur district between 2012 and 2016.
It has been alleged that Prajapati in collusion with other government officials and private persons, had got the mining leases renewed without following proper process of e-tendering and thereby aiding and abetting illegal mining in the district.
An ED official related to the probe told IANS, "Bank accounts related to companies of Prajapati and his sons were confronted with him, wherein a lot of suspicious transactions were noticed." The documents of the benami properties as well as the bank transactions were seized by the ED team in December last year. The ED had carried out searches at several locations in Uttar Pradesh against the former minister in December last year.
The ED had seized incriminating documents including computers and electronic records relating to transactions of immovable properties acquired by Prajapati, his family and associated companies.
The ED had searched seven premises including residences of Prajapati in Lucknow and Amethi, company offices in Lucknow, residence of a Chartered Accountant in Kanpur and houses of two benami holders of Prajapati in Lucknow and Amethi.
According to an ED official, during searches more than 100 registries of different properties spread across Lucknow, Kanpur, Amethi, Sitapur, etc. were unearthed.
The official said that the agency had also recovered allotment letters of four villas in Mumbai, valued at Rs 2.5 crore each, belonging to the family members of Prajapati.
During the searches last year, the properties of Prajapati identified by the ED included nine properties of MGA Hospitality in Faizabad and Sitapur valued at Rs 5.78 crore, five properties of MAGS Enterprises in Kanpur and Lucknow valued at Rs 95 lakh, 11 properties of Anil Prajapati (a son of Prajapati) in Lucknow, Kanpur, Amethi and Mumbai valued at Rs 7.54 crore, eight properties in the name of Anurag Prajapati (another son of Prajapati) in Mumbai, Lucknow, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur valued at Rs 3.6 crore, one property of Shilpa Prajapati in Mumbai valued at Rs 2.1 crore, two properties of MGA Colonizers in Lucknow valued at Rs 79 lakh and 44 benami properties worth Rs 17.15 crore in Lucknow.
The official said besides these properties, the agency sleuths also recovered documents of 23 properties ranging between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 36 lakh in the name of a single benami, whose residence has also been searched.
The official said that during the ED probe it was revealed that the cash deposits in the bank accounts of Prajapati's family members and companies were found to be non-commensurate with their income tax filings.
The official said that it was also revealed that during the period, Prajapati remained Minister in the UP government, his company rose exponentially in net worth which he could not explain satisfactorily during his examination.
The ED official said: "The agency also recorded the statement of three Chartered Accountants associated with companies of Prajapati and his son and it also collected several Income Tax returns (ITRs) and balance sheets of these companies." The official said that the "ITRs and bank balance sheets" of Prajapati and his family members were also submitted by the three CAs to the ED sleuths.
The official said that the ED recorded the statements of several people including Prajapati's driver, peon and cook.
"All the three people were also confronted with him," he added.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)