Himachal CM’s wife questioned in money laundering case
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for nearly six hours on Tuesday in a money laundering case.
The ED found that Virbhadra Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the names of his family, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income, during his tenure as the Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.
“More than 50 questions were asked to Pratibha Singh, most of them were related to sources of money to acquire assets, including a flat in a posh locality in Delhi,” an ED official, who didn’t wish to be identified, told IANS.
If required she would be summoned again, the official said.
The flat in Greater Kailash-1 in Delhi reportedly belongs to Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh.
The probe against Virbhadra Singh, who has denied any wrongdoing, was initiated after he was accused of graft during his term as the union minister.
In June the octogenarian Chief Minister was confronted twice by the Central Bureau of Investigation over the unaccounted assets who put the onus of explaining the assets on his wife and children.
CBI sources claimed that his son, Vikramaditya Singh, said some of his assets were from the money provided by his father.
The ED told the Delhi High Court on Monday that it would not arrest Pratibha Singh when she joins the probe.
After recording her statement, if the ED is satisfied that a case is made against Pratibha Singh, the court will be informed before arresting her, the agency said.
The court had in a notice to the ED, sought reply on Pratibha Singh’s application seeking protection from arrest till the next date of hearing on August 24. She filed the plea for restraint orders in the wake of the arrest of Life Insurance Corporation agent Anand Chauhan, a co-accused in the case.
The ED arrested Chauhan from Chandigarh on July 9 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). His was the first arrest in the case, in which the Chief Minister is also an accused.
Both the ED and the CBI have accused Chauhan of investing Virbhadra Singh’s “tainted” Rs 5 crore in LIC policies in his and his family members’ name.
On April 26 the high court said the ED’s provisional order of attaching some assets of Virbhadra Singh’s two children in the money laundering case would continue but all subsequent proceedings against them would remain stayed.