Suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma grilled for 8 hours by ED

Ahmedabad: Enforcement Directorate (ED) here today grilled suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who is facing a money-laundering case, for almost eight hours.

While hearing his anticipatory bail plea yesterday, the Supreme Court had granted Sharma an interim relief and directed him to be present for questioning at the ED office. Gujarat High Court had turned down his anticipatory bail plea in April.

Sharma, along with his two lawyers, reached the ED office at 10 am and was questioned for almost eight hours, ED sources said. Coming out of the office at around 6 in the evening, Sharma told reporters that he will cooperate with the agency. "I appeared before the ED officials as per the order of the Supreme Court. I will come again if they call me," he said.

The ED registered a case against Sharma under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2012. It is alleged that Sharma sold government land at a cheaper rate to the Kutch-based Welspun Group when he was the collector of the district during 2003-04, which caused a loss of Rs 1.2 crore to the state exchequer.

The company, in return, made Sharma's wife Shyamal, who lives abroad, a 30 per cent partner in one of its subsidiaries 'Value Packaging' and extended benefits of Rs 29.5 lakh to her, states the complaint.

The ED invoked PMLA alleging that the money was first deposited in Shyamal's overseas bank account and then transferred to his account, in violation of the act. Gujarat anti-corruption bureau had arrested Sharma in this matter last year. He later got bail.

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