Rajasthan bribery racket: Profit-making firms were targeted, mining ops suspended, bribe sought

According to the ACB, Singhvi and middleman Sanjay Sethi headed the racket.

Written by Mahim Pratap Singh | Jaipur | Updated: September 18, 2015 12:31:37 am

The last three training courses attended by suspended IAS officer Ashok Singhvi were on ethical leadership, management of natural resources and public private partnership.

Singhvi was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) late on Wednesday night for allegedly running a different kind of “public-private partnership” — a bribery racket involving top officials of the mining department, a middleman, and a mining baron.

According to the ACB, Singhvi and middleman Sanjay Sethi headed the racket. “It was almost scientific. Singhvi and Sethi scanned balance sheets of mining companies and identified profitable mining operations. They would then target these companies, first suspending their operations and then demanding huge bribes for allowing them to resume,” said ACB sources.

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The Singhvi-Sethi partnership reportedly began in 1994, when the former was posted as the Udaipur district collector. “It was a classic case of a complex collusion of regional mining mafia, top officials and a few local musclemen. Leaving his humble origins behind, Sethi derived power from the high offices in Jaipur,” said the sources.

“In the state’s mining administration, the duo emerged as two levels of a single-window system, one within the government and another outside of it. Everything had to go through them,” they said. ACB sources said Sethi was almost running the entire state mining department from Udaipur.

“Since the time we received information, we had been following Singhvi and Sethi, identifying their modus operandi,” IG Dinesh M N told The Indian Express. “This specific case was under our scanner for the last 10 days,” he said.

On Tuesday night, at about 8 pm, Dinesh reportedly received “pin-pointed information” about the Rs 2.5 crore bribe that was to exchange hands at the office of mining baron Sher Khan’s CA Shyam Singhvi, between 10 am to 1:30 pm on Wednesday. Following the tip-off, the ACB’s special investigation unit and the Jaipur-1 unit swung into action and busted the racket.

Sources said it took the ACB just 10 minutes to convince Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje about Singhvi’s key role in the racket. “The CM was surprised to learn about his role, but was quickly convinced and gave us the go- ahead to act against him after we presented the evidence,” said a top ACB source.

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