ED raids underway in link with Chhattisgarh coal levy scam (Image: PTI)
In a massive crackdown, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) accompanied by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans raided 14 locations in Chhattisgarh on Monday pertaining to its ongoing money laundering investigation into an alleged coal levy scam in the state. The searches are currently being carried out at the premises of two Congress MLAs, one party's spokesperson and the treasurer.
As per the sources, the ED is suspecting that around Rs 60-70 crore has been diverted to party funds and to the individual MLAs The Congress leaders came under the central agency's scanner a month after the top bureaucrats were arrested in January 2023 in the same case.
The investigation comes in connection with a massive scam in which an illegal levy of Rs 25 crore was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen, according to the agency.
#BREAKING | #CoalScam: ED searches underway in #Chhattisgarh.— Republic (@republic) February 20, 2023
Tune in to watch updates here - https://t.co/HbKDYgaNDs pic.twitter.com/raCKzq2cfs
ED raid underway in Raipur:-
(CRPF jawans deployed in Raipur as ED's searches underway)
Earlier this month, the ED in its supplementary prosecution complaint (chargesheet) in the alleged Chhattisgarh coal levy ‘scam’ claimed that kingpin Suryakant Tiwari enjoyed a larger-than-life image in the state bureaucracy due to his association with Saumya Chaurasia, who was posted as deputy secretary in the office Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
The agency’s investigation also found three IPS officers acting as subservient to Tiwari, a coal trader, and taking illegal directions from him and Chaurasia, said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its second prosecution complaint filed in a special court in Raipur on Monday. The supplementary prosecution complaint said Tiwari received and conveyed “unofficial” instructions from Chaurasia to the district-level IAS/ IPS officers.
Investigations found that Suryakant Tiwari and his associates illegally extorted nearly Rs 540 crore over the last two years from coal transporters and other businessmen in Chhattisgarh, it alleged.
The entries in diaries show that of the total extorted money, Rs 170 crore was used to allegedly purchase benami assets (properties bought by a person, not under his or her name), including immovable properties and coal washeries, Rs 36 crore was given to Chaurasia through Upadhyaya, Rs 52 crore was paid to a senior politician, Rs 4 crore to some MLAs in Chhattisgarh, Rs 6 crore to ex-MLAs and politicians, it claimed.
The ED recorded the statement of three IPS officers posted in the state so far in this connection and they were found to be acting as "subservient to a private businessman (Tiwari)" and were allegedly taking illegal instructions from Tiwari and Chaurasia (who is also technically much junior to them in rank), it claimed.
Faizal Rizvi, the lawyer of Chaurasia and Tiwari, stated that the charges levelled against his clients by the ED are baseless and politically motivated. The money laundering case stems from an Income Tax department complaint that was registered following raids made by the department in June 2022.