The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized cash of over Rs 10 crore, gold worth over Rs 21 lakh and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakh from the residential premises of land mafia Bhupinder Singh Honey, a relative of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, and others in connection with an alleged illegal sand mining case.
The financial probe agency declared the recoveries after it concluded its two-day raid conducted at the business and residential premises of the accused and their associates in over a dozen places in Mohali, Ludhiana, Rupnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Pathankot. Kudratdeep Singh, the owner of Pinjore Royalty Company, and his partners and shareholders Kanwarmahip Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sunil Kumar Joshi, and Jagveer Inder Singh, Randeep Singh, the owner of Providers Overseas Consultants Pvt Ltd and its other Directors and shareholders including Bhupinder Singh and Sandeep Kumar were raided, the agency said.
The ED raids went on from 7:30 am till late night Tuesday and it again started early today under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The places being searched on Tuesday and today include Honey's Homeland Heights Society residence in Mohali's Sector 70.
"During the course of the search, various incriminating documents related to the sand mining business, property transactions; mobile phones, Indian currency of more than Rs 10 Crore, gold worth above 21 lakhs, and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakhs were found and seized from the premises," the ED said, adding, it “carried out search operation in the illegal sand mining case”.
The agency had initiated a money-laundering investigation on the basis of an FIR registered under the Indian Penal Code and under sections of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development) Act, 1957 in March 2018.
A team comprising officials of the Mining Department, Civil Administration, and Police Department made a surprise check on March 7, 2018, on the basis of a complaint received at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar Police Station regarding illegal sand mining, the FIR said.
Consequently, it was found that several mines were being excavated by various machines and mining was being carried out beyond the designated area.
Accordingly, several tippers and trucks, porcelain machines, and JCB Machines were captured and seized by the investigating team.
"The seized tipper and trucks were also found to be overloaded with sand. The seized weighment slips having office stamps had actually not been issued by the concerned office and were forged," said the ED.
Subsequently, the mining operation at Malikpur mining site was stopped and also the approval of weighment slips was stopped by the team, the agency added.
As per the FIR, apart from Malikpur, illegal mining activities were also being carried out in Burjtahl Das, Barsal, Lalewal, Mandala, and Khosa.
On the basis of information available, the investigation was initiated against all the accused mine owners and their associates in order to ascertain the money laundering activities undertaken by them to launder the proceeds of crime.
A team of the agency is questioning Honey and recording his statement. However, the decision to arrest anyone will be taken as per the situation, officials said.
The agency suspects that black money was being invested in getting a contract for the sand mine. The company floated, sources say, is of very small scale and unlikely to get a contract that is worth crores.
Honey's partner Kudratdeep Singh of Ludhiana and 25 others were charged by the Punjab Police in 2018 when the FIR was registered.
When the ED questioned Kudratdeep Singh, Honey was revealed to be the main facilitator.
Sources in the ED said the agency is probing whether the accused used the Chief Minister's name to mine illegally.
Chief Minister Channi on Tuesday termed the raids political vendetta, saying, "Congress and its leaders will not budge under any pressure.”