Free Press Journal

Coal import probe in limbo: Congress


New Delhi : The Congress on Monday accused the Centre of stalling a probe announced by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in 2014 into the coal import over-invoicing fraud of Rs29,000 crore because the importer companies include those owned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two close industrialist friends.

Party spokesman and former union minister Jairam Ramesh also chided finance minister Arun Jaitley writing blogs on all sorts of scams, but keeping mum on an investigation started by DRI, a part of his own ministry. Addressing a Press conference, he said, “Seventy per cent of the imports, mostly from Indonesia, were undertaken by one of these groups.”

He said the fraud came to light in two announcements by the DRI in October 2014 and on March 31, 2016. When an NGO went to Delhi High Court for an SIT (special investigation team) to take over the probe that was not making a progress, DRI took a stand in the court the SIT was not required as it was already conducting probe into the fraud by 40 companies and it has already served show-cause notices to four companies, including those belonging to the two groups in question.

This is another twist in the story as the private power companies in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana are fighting for increased power rates in view of the costlier coal imports. The Supreme Court rejected their demand since the agreements envisaged no power rate revision even if the coal price goes up while the DRI showed the coal price was artificially inflated through overinvoicing. The Modi government is already trying to help the power companies to raise the power rates.

All that the Congress wants is a time-bound impartial DRI probe into the import fraud instead of the probe drags on indefinitely and is dropped ultimately, the Congress leader said.

Jairam narrated the farce going on to never complete the probe as Adanis went to the Singapore High Court to prevent the handover of the import documents of his firm’s negotiation of the deal. It turned down the plea four days ago and very next day Adanis moved the Bombay High Court to prevent the DRI get the documents. He said that on June 20, 2016, finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia wrote to State Bank of India chairman Arunmdhati Bhattacharya to hand over the documents that its Singapore branch held in the deal, but four days later she declined, claiming it was against the Singapore law.