Coal scam: ED to launch money laundering cases against firms

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has decided to register money laundering cases against firms under CBI scanner, including Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) and Rathi Steel and Power, PTI reported.

According to ED officials, the agency has issued directions to its various zonal offices across the country to initiate investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the financial dealings of the firms that had been booked in the case.

The ED probe would also look into the issue of foreign exchange "contravention" by these firms that had now been asked by the agency to furnish relevant documents.

The firms include Castron Technologies Ltd, Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited, Pushp Steel and Mining Pvt Ltd, JSPL, RSPL, Grace Industries, Jharkhand Ispat, Green Infrastructure, Hindalco, BLA Industries and Nav Bharat Power Private Limited.

The report quoted sources as saying the agency had taken cognisance of the over 17 FIRs filed by CBI in this case and it would investigate if these firms laundered illegal money and generated "proceeds of crime" in the entire process of coal allocation.

The Supreme Court is monitoring the probe being conducted by both agencies.

The premier investigating agency registered the FIRs after it conducted three preliminary enquiries related to coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009, 1993 and 2004 and projects given under a government scheme.

The agency would mainly focus on transactions and business dealings of firms that were allocated the coal blocks during the investigation period and once that was established, the ED would identify the assets and properties to be attached under money laundering laws.

The report quoted sources as saying in cases in which closure reports had been filed by CBI, the ED would still pursue investigations and see if there had been any illegal activity which qualified to be a violation of the PMLA or the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

CBI was also expected to complete its probe in the case by this month-end.

The apex court also recently sought the CVC's assistance to examine all cases in the coal blocks allocation scam in which there were divergent views between the investigating officer and CBI's head office on filing charge sheets.

The court asked the chief vigilance commissioner and two vigilance commissioners to give their suggestions whether the cases could be closed or CBI could go ahead with the filing of charge sheets in them.