The CBI has booked 25 companies — including the Adani group of companies, Vedanta Ltd, Jindal Steel, IFFCO as well as Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) — and four government officials for allegedly causing a loss of close to Rs 97 crore to PSU Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL).
The public officials, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), allegedly extended favours to these companies in terms of allowing delayed payments, not charging interest on delayed payments and allowing coal supply despite previous dues not being cleared.
The public officials, all MCL Kolkata officer bearers, have been identified as Kaberi Mukherjee, the then chief manager (finance); Anil Kumar Bhowmik and Deba Jyoti Chatterji, the then senior managers (finance); and Srivalli Veerangam, the then deputy manager (finance).
The companies arranged as accused include Adani Power Ltd, Unit 1 and Unit 3 of Adani Power Maharashtra Ltd, Talwandi Saboo Power Ltd, Vedanta Ltd, Aarati Steels Ltd, SESA Sterlite Ltd (IPP) (Now Vedanta Ltd), Haldia Energy Ltd, Atibit Industries Co Ltd., Haldia Steels Ltd, BILT Graphic Products Ltd., JK Paper Ltd, JSL Ltd, Jindal Stainless, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, Aryabrata Trading Pvt Ltd, Kohinoor Paper & Newsprint (P) Ltd, MSP Sponge & Power, MSP Steel and Power, IMFA Utkal Manufacturing & Services Ltd, IFFCO, Emami Biotech Limited and Factor Power Ltd.
According to the FIR filed by CBI, the public officials “entered into criminal conspiracy, during years 2013-2017, with 25 accused coal consumers and unknown others, with an intention to defraud MCL in the matter relating to supply of coal by MCL through rail rake under Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) between MCL & said coal consumers.”
The FIR has alleged that “the accused public servants abused their respective official positions by allowing supply of coal to the said accused coal consumers without adhering to the provisions/terms and conditions of the FSAs, falsified the records/data of MCL, and did not recover due performance incentives/compensation from the aforesaid accused coal consumers and thereby, the aforesaid accused persons have caused undue/wrongful loss to the tune of Rs 97 crore (approx) to Mahanadi Coalfields Limited and corresponding undue/wrongful gain to themselves.”
According to CBI, the accused officials did not serve compensation and proforma invoice dues in time. In the event of non-payment, the officials did not even initiate any proceedings against the defaulting companies.
Officials also did not take any action on recovery interest over delayed payments, the agency has alleged. The FIR said that “undue favours were extended to the coal consumers by supplying coal to them … in spite of having inadequate / non-sufficient/nil/negative ledger balances of the coal consumers with the MCL.”
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