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Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot's elder brother skips ED summons second time

Officials said Agrasain Gehlot did not appear before the investigating officer on Tuesday as well on the ongoing health grounds and has now been asked to appear next week in Delhi.

Published: 04th August 2020 10:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2020 10:48 PM   |  A+A-

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot speaks to the media persons as he leaves the airport after arriving back from Jaisalmer to Jaipur Saturday Aug. 1 2020. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's elder brother Agrasian Gehlot skipped Enforcement Directorate summons for a second time Tuesday in a money-laundering case, citing health issues, officials said.

He was first summoned to appear on July 29, but he had sought exemption on health issues.

Officials said Agrasain Gehlot did not appear before the investigating officer on Tuesday as well on the ongoing health grounds and has now been asked to appear next week in Delhi.

Agrasain Gehlot's son Anupam had deposed before the ED on July 29 and had informed the agency about his personal business links with his family-promoted firm Anupam Krishi.

He was then handed over fresh summons for his father to appear on August 4 in connection with the money-laundering case linked to alleged financial irregularities in exporting fertiliser.

Anupam, too, is expected to be called again by the agency.

On July 22, the central agency had raided Agrasain Gehlot's premises in Jodhpur and a few other places in connection with the case filed under the criminal charges of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Officials had said the agency had seized a number of documents during the raids and Agrasain Gehlot and a few others were required to be questioned about their fertiliser business.

Some other people involved in the case have also been summoned by the probe agency.

The raids came about after the agency filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR, in a 2007-09 Customs Department case registered for alleged irregularities in the procurement and export of subsidised Muriate of Potash (MOP), meant for farmers, and investigation in this case was finalised in 2013.

The ED took cognisance of the Customs FIR and a July 13 charge sheet to press money-laundering charges to probe a "smuggling syndicate", allegedly run by Agrasain Gehlot, his firm Anupam Krishi and others, officials said.

The agency said the case pertains to alleged fraudulent export of MOP in the guise of industrial salts to buyers based in Malaysia and Taiwan.

The MOP is restricted for exports so that it is easily available to farmers in the country.

The ED action came at a time when a political slugfest was on between CM Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot, with the Congress accusing the BJP o engineering the dissent.

Pilot, a former Union minister, was sacked as Rajasthan deputy CM and PCC chief recently.

Also, R K Sharma, a Rajasthan-based businessman and promoter of the 5-star Fairmont hotel in Jaipur was summoned by the ED in a foreign exchange and the Yes Bank money laundering case.

Sharma, officials said, has informed the agency that he has contracted COVID-19 infection and will be able to join ED investigation in the two cases once he recovers.

The businessman is alleged to have been a business partner of Vaibhav Gehlot, the son of the Rajasthan CM, in a car rental company in the past.

The officials said Yes Bank had given a Rs 168-crore loan to Triton Hotels and Resorts in which Sharma is a shareholder and a promoter.

Responding to the raids, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala had told reporters that "Prime Minister Modi has created 'raid raj' in the country but we are not going to be scared."

When the Centre's "gimmicks" failed to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan, ED raids started at the premises of Gehlot's elder brother, he had said.

Agency sources had said Agrasain Gehlot and his firm were slapped with over Rs 60 crore penalty by the Customs Department for these alleged export irregularities in 2013.

It is alleged that Gehlot's company "diverted" 35,000 metric tonnes of MOP that had a value of Rs 130 crore in the international market.

The ED alleged Agrasain Gehlot, in his capacity as a dealer, was the custodian of the MOP and was "solely responsible" for its proper distribution to farmers, and his alleged connivance with a company, Saraf Impex Pvt Ltd, and others resulted in the diversion of MOP that was imported by Indian Potash Limited at a concessional rate of duty.

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