The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested businessman Amit Katyal, a close aide of Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, in connection with the land-for-jobs case. Katyal is the promoter of AK Infosystem, an official said, confirming the arrest.
Katyal and AK Infosystem have been under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED in connection with the land-for-jobs scam.
The ED case, filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), stems from a CBI probe into allegations that people were given employment in the railways – when former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad was railway minister – in return for land parcels gifted or sold at cheap rates to his family and associates.
In March this year, the ED had searched premises linked to Katyal. After registration of the enforcement case information report (ECIR), the ED had summoned Katyal on several occasions and he was questioned six times by the agency.
An ED official said Katyal’s family owns the Krrish group of companies and has been in the business of breweries and distilleries since 1983, and in the real estate business since 2008. “It was found that the company, M/s Iceberg Industries Ltd, which was previously known as Iceberg Consultants Limited, was incorporated in 1994 and Katyal had become its whole-time director from the date of its incorporation. The company, for the purpose of setting up a distillery and brewery plant, had purchased a land of approximately 12 acres in Bihar’s Bihta. He had then set up a plant for distillery in Bihar under the company M/s Iceberg Industries Ltd,” the official said.
“It was also found that since Katyal’s distillery was operating in Bihar, he had started purchasing small chunks of lands/plots in Bihar in the name of several companies such as M/s In-Shape Health & Resorts Pvt. Ltd., M/s Iceberg Hotel & Resorts Ltd., and M/s AK Infosystem Pvt. Ltd. during 2006-2011,” the official added.
The ED has found during its investigation that Katyal was the director and major shareholder of M/s AK lnfosystem Pvt Ltd (AKIPL) at the time when the company had received a land parcel from a relative of a candidate, who was selected as a Group-D substitute in Indian Railways. Later, Katyal handed over the company to the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2014.
The New Friends Colony property searched by the ED in March was identified as D-1088 and is said to be the registered address of AKIPL. According to the CBI FIR in the case, AKIPL got a land parcel in lieu of a railway job given to a candidate when Lalu was railways minister. In 2014, majority shares of the company were purchased by Rabri Devi, who was appointed a director in the firm along with Tejashwi’s sisters Chanda and Ragini, ED officials said.
Agency sources said that though the New Friends Colony property is shown in the records as the registered address of AKIPL, it is being used as a residential premise by Tejashwi Yadav.
According to ED officials, Rabri Devi and Hema Yadav separately received two land parcels each from candidates who got railway jobs. These land parcels were bought at a price of just Rs 7.5 lakh and were then allegedly sold to M/s Meridian Constructions India Ltd, a company run by Abu Dojana, for Rs 3.5 crore.
The CBI filed a chargesheet in the case against Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi – they were questioned recently – and 14 others under charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and all have been summoned on March 15.