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Cong slams Centre over coal import scam, demands ‘fair and impartial’ probe


New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused the central government of shielding its “favourite” industrialists in an alleged scam in import of coal worth Rs. 29,000 crore and demanded a “fair and impartial” probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT) in a time-bound manner.
Senior party leader Jairam Ramesh also took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking why he did not take up the matter with his counterpart in Singapore where the coal import transactions took place.
Ramesh said PM Modi has met the Singapore PM three times in as many years after the probe began. He also accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of being silent on the issue, while remaining vocal on others.
“In October 2014, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) revealed about a scam on coal import and a probe was initiated on the over-invoicing of import of coal,” Mr Ramesh claimed
On March 31, 2016, the DRI said 40 companies are involved in this scam and it is worth Rs. 29,000 crore, the Congress leader alleged.
The DRI, he said, also issued letter rogatory to Singapore seeking its help to access documents lying with overseas branches of the SBI bank where coal import transactions took place.
But the probe has remained stalled, he said, adding that showcause was issued against four out of the 40 companies by the DRI.
“It is clear that after four years, no result of the probe has come because favourite industrialists are involved in it. If you act against the industrialist, then the government will fall,” he told reporters in Delhi.
“The four companies are owned by favourite industrialists,” Mr Ramesh alleged, and named a few business houses who were allegedly issues notice by DRI.
“A Special Investigation Team (SIT) should investigate the scam as has been demanded in September 2017 in a PIL filed by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan’s NGO in the Delhi High Court and it should be time-bound.
“All obstacles coming in the way of DRI should also be removed and the government should hold discussions with Singapore to make the documents available to DRI,” the Congress leader demanded.
Ramesh alleged that a business house had moved the Singapore High Court to stop sharing of documents available with SBI Singapore branch with the DRI, though the plea was quashed recently.
It has now moved the Bombay High Court to restrain the DRI probe, he claimed.
Ramesh said 70 per cent of the coal imports into the country happen through the companies of this business house.
He also displayed a letter dated May 20, 2016 where Revenue Secretary Hashmukh Adia had requested the then SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya to share the documents with DRI.
However, Bhattacharya refused to do so saying it was against Singapore law, Ramesh said expressing his dismay over her refusal.
Referring to an FIR filed by the CBI against some officers of NTPC and others in connection with the investigation, he asked as to why the “big players” involved in the “scam” are being spared.