The CBI has registered a case of bribery against former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayana Rao and Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks.
On Tuesday morning, CBI teams carried out searches at Jindal’s residence in the posh Lutyens’ zone of Delhi, as well as the office of one of his firms in South Delhi.
Searches were also carried out at 19 locations in Delhi and Hyderabad. CBI sources told Express that Jindal was not at home during the raids, and that some cupboards labelled ‘office’ and ‘staff’ were sealed and will be opened in his presence later.
The agency has already questioned Rao in the case. Rao was MoS coal from 2004 to 2006 and 2006 to 2008.
The CBI has booked Rao and Jindal on charges of graft, criminal misconduct and cheating. The FIR also names Jindal Group Companies — Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Gagan Sponge Iron Limited (GSIL), Jindal Realty and New Delhi Exim Limited — and Rao’s Saubhagya Media.
The investigating agency has alleged that Saubhagya Media received Rs 2.25 crore from a Jindal group company within a year of GSIL winning mining rights for the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal bock in Birbhum, Jharkhand in 2008.
It is alleged that JSPL, in connivance with Rao, misrepresented facts in an application in January 2007, which helped it secure the coal block, as the ministry was against single company monopoly over coal resources.
The company claimed to have mining rights for only three coal blocks, when it had rights over at least six.
In January 2008, JSPL won the mining rights for the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal bock, soon after which, New Delhi Exim Limited invested in shares of Rao’s Saubhagya Media, at Rs 100 a share when its shares were trading at `28 each.
The CBI said this was ‘quid pro quo’ and a kickback paid by Jindal Group to Rao. CBI sources said that books of accounts of Jindal group companies have revealed a ‘peculiar’ manner in which the money was transferred from one Jindal company to another as ‘loan’ and finally, to Rao’s company.
Jindal Group company Gagan Sponge Iron Limited gave a loan to Jindal Reality, another company owned by the same group, which in turn, gave a loan to New Delhi Exim Limited, also part of the same group, which in turn, bought the shares in Rao’s firm Saubhagya Media for `100 a share, a premium of Rs 72 per share, when its value was only `28 each.
In addition to Rao and Jindal and five of his group’s companies, CBI has also booked ‘unknown members of the screening committee which looked into the allocation of coal blocks and unknown directors of companies named in the FIR.
So far, the CBI has registered 12 cases in connection with the coal scam. The Comptroller and Auditor General in its report tabled in 2012 had said that the government exchequer suffered a loss of `1.86 lakh crore due to irregularities in allocation of coal blocks.