Congress seeks independent probe into 'coal import scam'

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New Delhi : 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for being silent on the scam involving "Modi's industrialist friend" Gautam Adani.

"Jaitley 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.

"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.

The four companies include Knowledge Infrastructure Systems Pvt Ltd, Coastal Energy Pvt Ltd, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and Rosa Power Supply Co Ltd.

"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," Ramesh said.

On May 20, 2016, 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.

"The probe has been stalled for four years. But no action has been taken against the company so far," Ramesh said.

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