The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday arrested IAS officer Ranu Sahu in Chhattisgarh in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged coal levy scam in the state, officials said.
Following her arrest, Sahu, who was posted as the director of the state agriculture department, was presented in a court that sent her to three-day ED custody.
She is the second IAS officer in the state to be arrested in the case.
Her arrest came a day after the central agency conducted raids at her premises.
“Sahu was arrested this morning in connection with the alleged coal levy case. She was later produced in a court hearing Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, which sent her to three-day ED custody,” ED’s lawyer Saurabh Pandey said.
The court of Additional District and Session Judge Ajay Singh Rajput passed the order.
Investigation into the case revealed the involvement of Sahu, who had served as Raigarh and Korba collector, in the money laundering offence. Proceeds of the crime as immovable property to the tune of Rs 5.52 crore were found in her possession, Pandey said.
The ED demanded her 14-day custody, but the court granted her custody to the agency till July 25, he added.
Talking to reporters earlier, Sahu’s counsel Faizal Rizvi said she was arrested on completely fictional grounds.
“She had cooperated with the central agency in the alleged coal levy case and appeared before it whenever she was summoned between October last year and January this year. After January, she was never summoned by the ED. There are no facts that establish her involvement in the alleged offence,” he said.
The properties that have been attached under the PMLA linking to Sahu belong to her parents. These properties dated back prior to 2019, while the ED states proceeds of crime are from 2020, he said.
“We opposed the 14-day custodial remand sought by the ED,” Rizvi added.
According to him, Sahu told the court that she has already replied to all queries of the ED and now it does not have anything to ask.
Terming the action against her as “politically motivated”, she requested the court not to send her to the ED custody, he added.
Sahu, a Chhattisgarh-cadre IAS officer of the 2010 batch, is currently posted as the director of the state agriculture department. Prior to this posting, she had served as collector of the coal-rich Korba and Raigarh districts.
The ED conducted raids at her residence in Raipur on Friday. Her premises were raided earlier as well and her assets were attached by the ED as part of its probe into the alleged coal levy case.
She is the second IAS officer in the state who has been arrested in the case as Sameer Vishnoi, an IAS officer of the 2009 batch, was arrested last year.
The ED had, in a statement, claimed a “massive scam” was taking place in coal transportation in Chhattisgarh, under which an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in the state by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen.
With the latest action, the ED has so far arrested 10 persons, including prominent bureaucrats, politicians and those linked to them, in the case.
The agency has also been probing an alleged liquor scam in the state in which it has arrested Anwar Dhebar – brother of Congress leader and Raipur Mayor Aijaz Dhebar, Managing Director of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL) Arunpati Tripathi and three others.
On July 18, the Supreme Court asked the agency to “stay their hand in all manner” in the alleged Rs 2,000 crore liquor scam linked money laundering case in Chhattisgarh.