Updated January 26th, 2024 at 17:20 IST
Former Ministers, Officials Among 100 Named in Coal & Liquor Scam FIR by ACB
The ED asserts that corruption amounting to Rs 2,161 crore occurred in the liquor scam in 2019, implicating senior bureaucrats, politicians, and their aides.
- 5 min read
Chhattisgarh: In a major development in the alleged coal and liquor scam case in Chhattisgarh, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered an FIR against more than 100 individuals, including two former ministers, former MLAs, the ex-Chief Secretary, and IAS officers.
The action comes after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), investigating the coal and liquor scam, filed an FIR with the ACB against influential figures, marking the largest crackdown on corruption since the change of government in the state.
Prominent names under which the FIR has been lodged
Those against whom the 19-page FIR has been lodged in the Anti-Corruption Bureau include former ministers Kawasi Lakhma, Amarjeet Bhagat, former Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand, jailed and suspended IAS Ranu Sahu, Sameer Bishnoi, Anil Tuteja, his son Yash Tuteja, Treasurer of Congress. Names of Ram Gopal Aggarwal, former Congress MLA Shishupal Sori, Chandradev Rai, Brihaspat Singh, UD Minz, and Gulab Kamro are also included. Apart from this, the name of former Chief Minister's close friend Vijay Bhatia is also mentioned in the FIR.
Exclusive details of the FIR accessed by the Republic
Modus Operandi of Coal Scam: The FIR which is lodged on the complaint of ED, details the modus operandi of the Coal Levy scam, alleging, ‘As part of the well-planned conspiracy, alleged that accused Suryakant Tiwari with the active support of politicians and senior government functionaries of the then ruled Congress government, managed to influence the IAS Sameer Vishnoi (the then Director of Geology and Mining ) to get the government order issued which ultimately became the fountainhead of the Coal extortion system, by converting the online system of issuance of Transport permits into a manual system.’
The 19-page long FIR also read that the investigation so far has revealed that other senior bureaucrats including Saumya Chaurasia, Deputy Secretary and significant CMO member, and IAS Ranu Sahu were also a part of the grand conspiracy and were aiding Suryakant Tiwari in running the extortion racket. It is also alleged that both—Saumya Chaurasiya and Suryakant Tiwari have been closely connected, evidence of which has been attached via WhatsApp chats between the two.
Modus Operandi of Liquor Scam
As per the FIR, It is also alleged that a part of this huge loot of duty received by the state on the sale of liquor also went to the leaders running the then Congress government in Chhattisgarh. Private players are prohibited in Chhattisgarh and liquor is sold only from eight hundred outlets. The state gets duty on the sale of liquor sold through it, but Rs 2,161 crore meant for the government was looted through a syndicated fraud. It was also revealed in the ED investigation that liquor is managed and monitored in the state by Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited. Anwar Dhebar, brother of Mayor Ejaz Dhebar, deployed his people at eight hundred outlets in the state, and with the help of these people, a duplicate hologram was made, and illegal local and foreign liquor was sold through it. According to the investigating agency, Anwar Dhebar used to keep 15 per cent of the commission for himself and gave the rest to the politicians in power.
ED has mentioned in the charge sheet that with good intentions in the year 2017, by amending the excise policy, a provision was made to sell liquor through Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corp Ltd (CSMCL), but after 2019, liquor scam kingpin Anwar Dhebar sent Arunpati Tripathi to CSMCL. After that, corruption was done through a syndicate of officers, businessmen, and people with political influence. During this period a scam of Rs 2161 crore took place. In its charge sheet, ED has divided it into parts A, B, and C, describing it as a 3-level scam.
Under Part A, CSMCL MD Arunpati Tripathi had to permit the liquor of the distiller of his choice, who had become part of the syndicate due to a bribe commission. A commission of Rs 75 was to be given on a case of country liquor, which Tripathi used to prepare an Excel sheet after taking commission from the distiller and supplier, and how much commission was received from whom, it was given to Anwar Dhebar.
Under Part B, the syndicate of Anwar Dhebar and Arunpati Tripathi created holograms of country liquor and English liquor brands and sold unaccounted liquor in CSMCL shops, causing direct revenue loss to the state.
Part C includes an annual commission from the distiller and transporter. Through the criminal syndicate, only three groups of liquor were sold in CSMCL shops, which included 52 per cent of Kedia Group's liquor, 30 per cent of Bhatia Group, and 18 per cent of Welcome Group.
What is the alleged Coal and Liquor scam?
The Enforcement Directorate is investigating the cases of levy in coal transportation and illegal liquor extortion by operating a syndicate during the then Congress-ruled Bhupesh Baghel government. ED has arrested former Chief Minister's deputy secretary Soumya Chaurasia, suspended IAS Sameer Bishnoi, Ranu Sahu, Suryakant Tiwari, Laxmikant Tiwari, Sunil Aggarwal, Nikhil Chandrakar who all are currently lodged in jail in the coal scam. Regarding the liquor scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed that corruption worth Rs 2,161 crore took place in the “liquor scam” in 2019, which is the result of the collusion of senior bureaucrats, politicians, and their associates of the state.
Published January 26th, 2024 at 17:16 IST
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