Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Scam probe may land many netas, babus in net

PATNA: The interrogation of Manoj Punamia, the Mumbai based hawala trader who played the key role in transferring the illgotten money of the
associates of former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, may lead to the disclosure of the involvement of several other politicians and bureaucrats who too may have laundered their money through the same route.

The Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate (ET) officials have been quizzing Punamia in Mumbai for the last three days hoping he will eventually start disclosing the hawala transactions of Mr Koda. But sources said Punamia is a big time hawala trader whose clientele may not be limited to Koda and company but may include other politicians and bureaucrats as well.

“If Punamia opens up and starts disclosing the details of the hawala transaction made by Koda’s associates, the amount could be between Rs 2500 crore to Rs 4000 crore. But the core issue is that Punamia is running a big time hawala racket. So it’s not only the question of Koda but there may be whole lot of other players from New Delhi and other states who may be using Punamia’s services to transfer their money abroad by hawala route. This will create a big furore in the political and bureaucratic circles,” said an I-T source.

No wonder, according to the I-T source, it could be a scary prospect for Punamia who is perhaps apprehensive that his disclosure may invite even threat to his life.

As for the I-T and ED officials, they have been mounting pressure on Punamia to become an approver in the multi-crore money laundering scam in which Mr Koda is an accused. Even on Wednesday, the officials grilled him in Mumbai but he remained non-committal . “We are still optimistic that he will become an approver. We are trying and will keep on trying but if it does not work, ED will have no option but to arrest him,” sources said.

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