Congress demands independent probe into coal scam involving ‘Modi’s friend’ Adani

Congress demands independent probe into coal scam involving 'Modi's friend' Adani
New Delhi: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference, in New Delhi on Sept 3, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Taking the attack further against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over crony-capitalism, the Congress on Monday targeted the centre over a stalled probe against the Adani Group and demanded a time-bound, independent probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into an alleged Rs 29,000-crore scam involving over-valuation of coal imports.

Days after Adani Group moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash all Letters Rogatory (LRs) issued by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Congress launched a frontal attack on the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for being silent on the scam involving “Modi’s industrialist friend” Gautam Adani.

“Jailtley writes blogs on every issue, but he is silent on this. He should write a blog on this. He doesn’t have the power to take any action,” said Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh.

Earlier, a Singapore court had rejected Adani Global’s plea, seeking a stay to produce documents pertaining to coal imports to India mostly from Indonesia. After that, the group moved the Bombay High Court on August 28.

The DRI had alleged that the companies inflated the price of coal they were importing from Indonesia to siphon off money abroad and to avail higher power tariff compensation.

“In October 2014, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence announced that there was a huge scam on coal import and a probe was initiated on the over-invoicing of import of coal. On March 31, 2016, DRI gave a new statement that 40 companies are involved in this scam and it is worth Rs 29,000 crore,” said Ramesh.

In September 2017, a PIL was filled at the Delhi High Court by an NGO run by (Advocate) Prashant Bhushan and it demanded a Special Investigative Team (SIT) probe.

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“On March 9, 2018, DRI in a litigation in the Delhi High Court said there was no need for an SIT and that it was probing the 40 companies and showcause notices were issued to four companies,” he said, adding the companies given notices belonged to Gautam Adani, Anil Ambani and the Essar group. Seventy per cent coal import in our country is done by Adani Group of Companies, he said.

“Adani Group filed a litigation in the Singapore court urging the documents, which are available with SBI (State Bank of India) Singapore branch, on the issue should not be given to the Indian government,” he said.

On May 20, 2016, the then Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia (now Finance Secretary) wrote to SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya saying the bank should provide those documents to DRI so that the probe could be completed, he said.

“After four days, she replied to Adhia saying the documents can’t be provided because it was against Singapore law,” the Congress leader added.

Taking a dig at Modi, Ramesh said the Prime Minister went to Singapore three times in four years but could not get the documents.

“Did the PM raise this issue with them? We want to ask him even after meeting Singapore Prime Minister (Li Hsein Loong) four times, why he couldn’t get those documents from Singapore SBI. It is not a Singapore government-run organisation. Even Singapore PM came to India once. They have a good rapport,” he said.

“The probe has been stalled for four years. But no action has been taken against the company so far,” Ramesh said. He also stated that the CBI had registered an FIR in the case on January 22 this year.

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He asked the Prime Minister what action had he taken to get those papers from Singapore SBI. “They will keep writing letters but nothing will happen to the investigation because it is a case of crony capitalism,” Ramesh said.

“We demand the the DRI probe should be impartial and time-bound. The government should talk to the Singapore government and all papers should be provided to the DRI,” he said.