Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to join the investigation in connection with the Prevention of Money Laundering case pertaining to illegal mining and extortion in Jharkhand and Bihar, is likely to skip the questioning.
According to the information, Soren is likely to attend a gathering in Chhattisgarh. Soren was summoned by the ED to join the investigation by 11 a.m. Thursady at their Ranchi office.
The ED had also written a letter to the Jharkhand Police Commissioner to make appropriate security arrangements ahead of his questioning.
"There was a cheque signed by Mr Soren which was found by us during the recent raid. He also allegedly misused his position and granted a lease," the sources said.
The ED had recently filed a charge sheet before a Special Ranchi court against Pankaj Mishra, a close aide of Soren, and Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash who are also said to be close to the Jharkhand CM.
The court has already taken the cognizance of the charge sheet.
The ED said that during investigation of the case, a total of 47 searches were conducted throughout India on several dates resulting in the seizure of cash amounting to Rs 5.34 crore, freezing of bank balances amounting to Rs 13.32 crore, freezing of an inland vessel MV Infralink -III, registration No. WB 1809, five stone crushers, two Hyva trucks besides the seizure of incriminating documents along with two AK 47 Assault Rifles.
Earlier, the ED had arrested Pankaj Mishra, Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash. The accused are presently in judicial custody.
The ED initiated the money laundering investigation on the basis of the FIR registered by the Barharwa Police Station, Sahebganj District, Jharkhand under various sections of IPC, against Mishra and others.
Later on, several FIRs regarding illegal mining lodged under IPC, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act have also been invoked.
Till date, the ED has identified proceeds of crime relating to illegal mining to the tune of more than Rs 1,000 crore in the case.
The PMLA investigation revealed that Mishra, who enjoys a political clout, being the representative of the Chief Minister, controls the illegal mining businesses as well as inland ferry services in Sahebganj and its adjoining areas through his accomplices.
"He exercises considerable control over the mining of stone chips and boulders as well as installation and operations of several crushers, set up across various mining sites in Sahebganj. Proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 42 crore acquired by Mishra have been identified till date," said the ED official.
Further investigation in the matter was on.