The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case of corruption and cheating against officials of various companies, including public sector undertakings (PSUs) NTPC and MMTC, for allegedly importing inferior-quality coal disguised as superior-quality coal and causing a loss of Rs 487 crore by inflating invoices.
The case is based on a probe conducted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence which found that between 2011-12 and 2014-15, over-invoicing was allegedly done by the firms. The CBI FIR has named Ahmed A R Buhari, promoter of Chennai-based Coastal Energy Pvt Ltd (CEPL), as an accused among others such as unidentified officials of NTPC, MMTC and Aravali Power Company Pvt Ltd (APCPL), a joint venture of NTPC and Haryana and Delhi governments. According to the FIR, NTPC and APCPL had floated global tenders for the supply of imported coal of a certain grade and quality. The grade and quality of the coal are crucial for achieving certain levels of power plant operations.
MMTC and CEPL emerged successful bidders for the supply of coal. CEPL, allegedly, instead of importing coal from Indonesia, directly routed their supply through Dubai-based sister concerns, enabling them to manipulate invoiced and quality certification. It is alleged that they entered into criminal conspiracy to cheat the government by importing coal of Indonesian origin by fraudulently showing inferior quality coal as that of superior quality, officials said.
NTPC, MMTC and APCPL operate coal-based thermal power plants for which they import coal through global tenders.
CEPL was a successful bidder for supply of coal to NTPC and APCPL after which it entered into agreements with its sister concerns in Dubai. When MMTC was a successful bidder, it entered into tripartite agreements with CEPL and its sister concerns in Dubai. The Dubai-based firms entered into pacts with Indonesian exporters for inferior-quality coal, officials said. The coal procured was supplied to CEPL/MMTC via CEPL on the basis of inflated invoice and manipulated test reports like certificate of sampling and analysis as coal of higher grade, they said.
Once imported, these consignments were provided to NTPC and APCPL as coal of higher grade with higher prices, they said. To conceal the original grade of the coal, the importing firms allegedly did not avail duty concessions offered by the government for coal imports originating from Indonesia, they further said. To avail such duty concessions, the importers will have to submit documents from Indonesian exporters. “A total excess amount of more than Rs 487 crore was paid by NTPC and APCPL to CEPL/MMTC in the import of coal…” the FIR alleged.