The Enforcement Directorate arrested suspended Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Pradeep Sharma today in connection with a money laundering case. The case pertains to sanction of government land in Bhuj for industrial use to Ms Welspun India Limited, and its group companies, Welspun Power and Steel and Welspun Gujarat Style Roharan, in 2004 when Sharma was the District Collector and Chairman of the District Land Evaluation and Pricing Committee.
According to sources, Sharma allegedly received Rs 29 lakh from private firm Welspun. The amount was first deposited in the account of Sharma’s wife, and then transferred to his account.
As per the complaint, Sharma had allegedly allotted land to Welspun at 25 per cent of the prevailing market rates which resulted in illegal benefits to the company and loss of around Rs 1.2 crore to the state.
In return, the company allegedly made Sharma’s wife a 30 per cent partner in one of its subsidiaries namely Value Packaging without having any investment and transferred benefits of Rs 29.5 lakh to her.
This bribe money was first deposited in the account of Sharma’s wife and then transferred to his account. Enforcement Directorate had seized properties of Sharma under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, including a land in Dehgam village of Gandhinagar district and a bungalow in the state capital.
At that time land in Dehgam was worth Rs 65 to 70 lakh while the bungalow worth Rs 1 crore.
The 1994-batch officer was booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by ED in 2012 on the basis of three FIRs lodged against him with CID (crime) and anti-corruption bureau (ACB). Earlier, the ED had attached his properties.
SHARMA WAS ARRESTED IN 2014
In 2004 Pradeep Sharma had sought a CBI probe into alleged snooping on a woman architect after two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations between the CM MODI’s close aide Amit Shah, who was then minister of state for home, and two top state police officials.
As per conversations between August and September 2009, did not specifically mention Modi by name but referred to a ‘saheb’, which the portals claimed was the Gujarat chief minister at whose instance snooping was done.
Sharma, a senior Gujarat bureaucrat, was also arrested in 2014. He was allegedly involved in snoopgate scandal when Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister.