Updated: June 4, 2021 3:30:12 am
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested RJD member of Rajya Sabha Amarendra Dhari Singh in connection with its money laundering probe into alleged corruption in import of fertilisers by the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO).
Singh has been implicated in the case on the basis of his association with a company named Jyoti Trading Corporation, Dubai — he is vice president of the firm which is a key accused in the case.
The ED case is based on a CBI FIR of May 17 in which the agency has booked IFFCO MD and CEO U S Awasthi, along with nine others, including his two sons, for alleged corruption and causing a loss to the exchequer by importing fertiliser raw material at inflated prices from abroad.
Singh, along with VVIP chopper case accused Rajiv Saxena, is mentioned among the accused in the CBI FIR. Saxena is accused of moving money for several accused in the AgustaWestland case apart from Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri who has been charged in the case.
The agency had last month conducted searches at 12 locations in Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai among others, including Awasthi’s office and residence, in connection with the case.
According to the CBI, IFFCO and Indian Potash Limited have been importing huge quantities of fertilizers running into several thousands of metric tonnes and raw materials for fertilizers from various foreign suppliers at highly inflated prices. The fertilizers are supplied to farmers with the Government of India providing subsidies to make it affordable.
The CBI case is based on references received from the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizer, Department of Fertilizers, apart from information developed by it against Awasthi and others named in the FIR.
Apart from Awasthi, those named in the FIR include Pravinder Singh Gahlaut, then MD, Indian Potash Ltd (IPL); Amol Awasthi (son of U S Awasthi), Promoter of M/s Catalyst Business Associates Pvt Ltd; Anupam Awasthi (son of U S Awasthi), Promoter of M/s Catalyst Business Solutions Pvt Ltd; Vivek Gahlaut (son of Pravinder Singh Gahlaut); Pankaj Jain, Jyoti Group of Companies and Rare Earth Group, Dubai; Sanjay Jain (brother of Pankaj Jain), President of M/s Jyoti Trading Corporation and beneficial owner of other entities of Jyoti Group; Amrinder Dhari Singh, Senior Vice President of M/s Jyoti Trading Corporation, Dubai; Rajiv Saxena, Chartered Accountant and Promoter of Midas Metal International LLC and certain other companies; and Sushil Kumar Pachisia, employee of Pankaj Jain.
In October last year, the ED too had booked Awasthi and raided his offices in connection with a case of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violation.
IFFCO has been under the scanner of Central agencies since 2011 when its then chairman Surinder Jakhar died under mysterious circumstances at a farmhouse with his body riddled with bullets and police claiming it to be a case of accidental fire. Jakhar was the son of Congress leader Balram Jakhar.
A reference sent to CBI and ED by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) then had alleged irregularities in procurement of raw material for fertiliser from certain foreign countries. Awasthi was then the MD of IFFCO.
In 2018, the government informed the Lok Sabha that it had asked the CBI to probe IFFCO and Awasthi for various irregularities over complaints received between 2013 and 2017.
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