ED summons former Bihar CM Rabri Devi in railway hotels corruption case

Former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi with her sons, Tej Pratap (left) and Tejashwi Yadav, during a rally in the state
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi in connection with its money laundering probe in the railway hotels allotment case, officials said today.

Rabri, wife of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, has been summoned to be present before the investigating officer (IO) of the case on September 26, they said.

The IO is expected to record her statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), under which it had registered a FIR against the Lalu Prasad family and others sometime back.

It is understood that this is the second summon by the agency to Rabri after she did not depose before it the first time.

The central probe agency had earlier questioned few people in this case including the wife of former UPA minister P C Gupta.

The Enforcement Directorate had taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate its own criminal complaint.

In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a criminal FIR (first information report) and conducted multiple searches against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and others.

The ED will investigate the alleged "proceeds of crime" generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, officials said.

Rabri, son Tejashwi Yadav, and others will be probed by the agency under charges filed in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR.

The case dates back to the time when Lalu was the railway minister in the UPA government.

Others named in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.

The CBI FIR alleges that Prasad, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a 'benami' company owned by Sarla Gupta.

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'.

The ED, under the PMLA, has powers to attach and confiscate tainted assets and it is expected that the agency will initiate such a move once it makes progress in the case.

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