Chhattisgarh: ED files 2 FIRs in coal levy, liquor scam with ACB; over 100 named - Hindustan Times

Chhattisgarh: ED files 2 FIRs in coal levy, liquor scam with ACB; over 100 named

Jan 26, 2024 05:55 PM IST

Reacting to the FIR registered by the ACB, former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the agency’s action is “politically motivated” and is an attempt to defame our leaders before the Lok Sabha elections

Raipur: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has lodged two separate first information reports (FIR) with the Chhattisgarh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in a money laundering case linked to the alleged coal levy and liquor scam, officials aware of the matter said on Friday.

Enforcement Directorate (Representative Photo)
Enforcement Directorate (Representative Photo)

According to officials, the probe agency has named around 70 people in the liquor scam and 35 have been named accused in the coal levy scam.

“On January 17, two separate FIRs were registered on the ED’s complaint, in which Congress politicians, former ministers of Bhupesh Baghel (ex-chief minister) government, IAS officers, traders and others have been named. The investigation has started and summons will be issued soon,” a senior ACB officer on the condition of anonymity said.

Both FIRs were lodged under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988/Amended Act 2018. Both the cases were earlier investigated by ED and arrests were also made.

The 35 accused persons named in the coal levy scam, include former Chhattisgarh CM aide Soumya Chaurasia, suspended IAS office Sameer Bishnoi, suspended IAS officer Ranu Sahu, alleged kingpin Suryakant Tiwari, Congress leader Ram Gopal Aggarwal, MLA Devendra Singh Yadav, former MLA of Kunkuri U D Minj and others, officials said.

The ED claims Tiwari as the mastermind behind a Rs.540 crore scam in the state.

In the liquor scam, the ED has named 70 people, including the then excise minister Kawasi Lakhma, former IAS Vivek Dhandh, Congress leader Anwar Dehbar, IAS officer Anil Tuteja, his son Yash Tuteja and others, added the official.

The FIR mentioned that an illegal levy of Rs.25 per tonne was being extorted for every tonne of coal transported in the state by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen.

“..Suryakant Tiwari maintained detailed handwritten accounts of incoming and outgoing extortion money. Suryakant Tiwari was getting the cash amount collected...Handwritten diaries were maintained by Rajnikant Tiwari which contained detailed date-wise party-wise entries reflecting the incoming and outgoing amounts. The ED devoted considerable time in its investigation to independently corroborate these diary entries… As per the hand diaries, cash amount to the tune of Rs.540 crore was extorted by the coal cartel between July 2020 to June 2022,” the FIR stated.

The FIR further stated that the extorted amount was utilised as per the instructions of Tiwari and Chaurasia.

“Date-wise outgoing entries can be seen in the handwritten diary. The cash was collected as used to acquire immovable assets, to pay to Congress Treasurer, to fund elections like Khairagad by-election, etc,” the FIR claimed.

Similarly, officials claimed that FIR in the liquor scam mentioned that former IAS Anil Tuteja worked as a syndicate with Anwar Dhebar and Arunpati Tripathi (Special Secretary Excise).

“The accused were involved in the collection of illegal commission in the sale of liquor in the state and sale of unaccounted liquor in government liquor shops. The FIR also mentioned the details that the trade of ‘fake hologram’ liquor was done in various districts of the state,” an ACB officer said.

In July 2023, the ED in its charge sheet mentioned that Rs.776 crore of the 2,161 crore collected in the Chhattisgarh liquor scam by Anwar Dhebar, the prime accused and brother of Raipur mayor Aijaz Dhebar, went to “political executives”.

Dhebar had decided to replicate the same corruption model in Jharkhand as well, but “abruptly” stopped when the ED started looking into the irregularities, it added.

Reacting to the FIR registered by the ACB, Baghel said that the agency’s action is “politically motivated” and is an attempt to defame our leaders before the Lok Sabha elections.

“Many people including former MLA UD Minj, Gulabh Kamro, MLA Kawasi Lakhma and others were named which were never mentioned by ED in their charge sheet which they have filed after two years of investigation. It clearly shows that this is an attempt to defame our leader. The ACB is now working at the behest of ED,” Baghel said.

Meanwhile, chief minister Vishnu Deo Sai, who was in Bastar, responded to the issue saying the ACB is an independent agency and they should be left alone to their job.

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