It’s a story of greed, corruption and political patronage running into several hundreds crore, that has exposed yet again the subterranean and mutually profitable links between the land mafia of UP and powerful government officials.
When Yadav Singh — Engineer-in-chief of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway — woke up at his palatial three-floor yellow painted house at Sector 51 Noida on last Thursday, he would hardly have anticipated that the morning would turn into a nightmare.
By the time the weekend arrived, the investigators recovered Rs 10 crore in cash and two kg of diamond jewellery, worth Rs 100 crore. At the time of going to the press, 30 raids have already been conducted at 20 buildings in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad and rather mysteriously, Kolkata.
The Income Tax (I-T) officials suspect that Singh could be a front for other money launderers and political heavyweights and are conducting inquiries in that direction. The man, whom colleagues describe as soft-spoken and humble, is being labelled as India’s most corrupt government servant by the enforcement agencies.
The I-T investigators were surprised by the wealth accumulated by a humble public servant, on a government salary of just over Rs one lakh; Yadav Singh’s basic salary is Rs 63,740.
In their efforts to dig out unaccounted money, more than 260 officers from the UP Income Tax (Investigation) and UP Police are examining large volumes of documents seized from Singh’s residence, 13 bank lockers and offices, allegedly pertaining to crores of unaccounted money and properties.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Singh and his family may have accumulated around Rs 1,000 crore as ill-gotten wealth. Raids are expected to continue for the best part of the next week.
“The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to join the probe under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), as documents seized from Singh’s residence indicate large-scale money laundering and in some cases, round-tripping. Shell companies were used to deal in properties and money was routed through suspected mailbox companies based in Kolkata. Since it is a clear Disproportionate assets (DA) case, the state may request the CBI to take up the probe,” sources said, adding that plots of the Noida Development Authority (NDA) were sold to these shell companies at subsidised rates, and later flogged to other companies at the market rate, accumulating huge windfall gains.
A shell company is an entity that has no active business and usually exists only in name, as a vehicle for another company’s business operations.