Coal scam: ED files money laundering charges against ex-minister, Naveen Jindal

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed money laundering charges against former minister of state in the coal ministry Dasari Narayana Rao and Congress MP Naveen Jindal in connection with its probe in the coal blocks allocation scandal.

The ED is reported to have traced multi-layered transactions between the firms owned by Jindal and Rao's firms based in Hyderabad and the routing of "illegal money" for alleged favours given for the allocation of coal firms to Jindal in Jharkhand in 2008.

The agency has filed charges against firms such as Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, Sowbhagya Media Ltd besides some unknown persons in its complaint in the case.

Other companies against whom the agency filed charges include Castron Technologies Ltd, Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited, Pushp Steel and Mining Pvt Ltd, RSPL, Grace Industries, Jharkhand Ispat, Green Infrastructure, Hindalco, BLA Industries and Nav Bharat Power Private Limited.

The ED has taken cognisance of the over 17 FIRs filed by CBI in this case and it is investigating whether these firms had laundered illegal money and generated ''proceeds of crime'' in the process of the coal blocks allocation. It is also looking into the issue of any foreign exchange "contravention" by these firms.

The CBI has also made similar charges in their criminal complaint filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act against these individuals and firms.

Meanwhile, Dasari Narayana Rao, who has been questioned by CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha, has claimed he had done no wrong and that the prime minister could have removed him from the post had he taken any wrong decision.

Rao also said that a final decision on any coal ministry-related work was taken by cabinet ministers Shibu Soren and prime minister Manmohan Singh, who held the portfolios at different times.

Rao and Soren have been also accused by former coal secretary P C Parakh in his recent book on 'coalgate', Crusader or Conspirator - Coalgate and other Truths, for scuttling reforms in the coal ministry (See: After Baru, ex-coal secretary Parakh calls PM toothless).   

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

The CBI had conducted three preliminary enquiries related to coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009, 1993 and 2004 as also projects given under a government scheme before registering the FIRs in this case.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has estimated a loss of Rs1,86,000 crore the exchequer caused by the coal block allocation scam.