Gayatri Prajapati in ED custody for seven days

Former UP minister Gayatri Prajapati, arrested earlier, has been sent to a seven-day Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody by a special court in a money laundering case linked to disproportionate assets.

His ED custody begins on Thursday.

Prajapati was booked in January this year by the ED in a fresh money laundering case after analysing an Uttar Pradesh Police vigilance FIR filed against him on charges of possessing alleged disproportionate assets.

The ED had sought at least 10 days’ custody of Gayatri Prajapati from the court to ‘dig out details of funds and 59 immovable properties worth Rs 20.90 crore’, allegedly amassed by the former minister and his family members using purported proceeds of crime earned from illegal mining and other avenues.

In this case, he was arrested and sent to jail on March 15, 2017 and has been in judicial custody since then.

The ED had raided a number of his premises and those of his associated at Lucknow, Kanpur and Amethi in December last year.

The agency had then said that during the raids, it seized Rs 1.42 lakh cash, demonetized currency valuing Rs 11.50 lakh, stamp papers worth Rs 5 lakh, some property-related documents and computers.

“During the search, more than 100 registries of different properties spread across Lucknow, Kanpur, Amethi, Sitapur and others were unearthed. In addition, allotment letters of four villas in Mumbai, valued at Rs 2.5 crore each, belonging to the family members of the former minister were also seized,” the ED had said in a statement.

The agency further said that its probe found that ‘after the arrest of Prajapati in March, 2017 in a rape case, his sons have clandestinely sold off some of the properties for personal gains and influencing key witnesses in the trial case against him.’

It had claimed that ‘cash deposits in the bank accounts of Prajapati family members and companies were found to be non-commensurate with their income tax filings’.

“It was found that during the period the accused (Prajapati) was a minister in the UP government, his company rose exponentially in net worth which he could not explain satisfactorily during his examination,” the ED had said.

The ED added that his family members had paid substantial tax on undisclosed income under the Union government-initiated Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) or the black money declaration scheme of 2016.

It said the probe against benami asset holders of Prajapati revealed that they were daily wage earners from humble backgrounds and incapable of owning or acquiring the properties found during investigation.

The ED is also probing his role in connection with the renewal of sand mining leases in Fatehpur district between 2012-2016.

It has been alleged in this case that Prajapati, in collusion with other government officials and private persons, got the mining leases renewed without following proper process of e-tendering and thereby aiding and abetting illegal mining in the district.