NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of filing a criminal case in the Goa mining scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money laundering case in the Rs 2,000 crore Uliburu mining scam in Odisha.
The agency has filed the case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and is set to attach properties worth crores of those involved in the scam.
"The agency has registered a criminal FIR and is set to attach assets under the PMLA. This is the second big mining scam case registered under laundering laws after similar action was taken in the Goa mining case last month," a source said.
The importance of the probe can be gauged from the fact that the ED has sent a team of 10 investigators from its regional office in Kolkata with Special Director Yogesh Gupta and his deputy D Kar personally camping in the state to take the investigation forward.
The agency has also sought police security for its team from the state government which, sources added, has been promptly accorded.
The ED slapped the charges after taking cognisance of the FIR filed in this regard by the Vigilance wing of the Odisha Police in 2012.
The case pertains to the Uliburu mines area located in the Joda mining circle in Keonjhar district of the state where large scale irregularities were detected by the state Mines department.
The Justice M B Shah Commission, which probed a number of mining scam cases, had termed this particular case as "one of the biggest illegal minings ever" even as it recommended a CBI probe into the matter.
The agency, sources said, has recently arrested two persons in this case -- prime accused Deepak Gupta and his associate S Rout.
The Odisha Vigilance department had also filed a charge sheet in this case in January against 23 persons and two firms at the special judge court at Keonjhar.
Gupta, the power of attorney holder of Uliburu mines in Odisha's Keonjhar district, was charged by the Vigilance with having raised ore from the reserve forest area adjacent to the mines by shifting the lease boundary.
Gupta, who was given the power of attorney by B K Mohanty, the lessee of Uliburu iron ore and manganese mines, had illegally mined around 45.22 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Uliburu reserve forest and gained Rs 893.67 crore as profit during 2003-2010, the Vigilance had said in the charge sheet.
The vigilance charge sheet had been filed after taking into account several reports, including those by the Tehsildar and Mining department which substantiated the involvement of several officials of departments like forest and revenue.
The vigilance department had also filed charges against several government officials including three deputy directors of the mines department.
The Shah Commission, while recommending a probe by a central agency in this case, had desired that all cases should be handed over to CBI "where the FIRs were registered by Police, Vigilance, Mines, Revenues, Forests and other departments" from 2008-2011.