Indian police arrest politician in huge fraud probe

PATNA, November 30, 2009 (AFP) – Indian police Monday arrested a regional politician suspected of embezzling up to 650 million dollars during his five years in ministerial posts in an impoverished eastern state, officials said. Madhu Koda was taken into custody in his constituency of Chaibasa, in the state of Jharkhand, on allegations of possessing wealth exceeding his known sources of income — an offence carrying a prison term of up to seven years.

“Following the arrest, Koda has been taken to (Jharkhand state capital) Ranchi under high security,” Chaibasa police chief Akhilesh Jha, who detained the politician, told AFP by telephone.

Later in the day, the 38-year-old Koda appeared in court and was ordered to spend 14 days in prison while authorities investigate, Jha said.

Koda’s arrest came after he failed to present himself before authorities for questioning, police said. He was arrested after evading several summons issued by India’s Enforcement Directorate, which probes economic crimes, police said.

Federal tax officials say Koda swindled nearly 650 million dollars during his time as mines minister and chief minister in Jharkhand, known for its mineral wealth, abject poverty and raging Maoist insur