Diaries of mining barons say 2 BJP ministers in MP were ‘bribed’: IT depthttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/diaries-of-mining-barons-say-2-bjp-ministers-in-mp-were-bribed-it-dept/

Diaries of mining barons say 2 BJP ministers in MP were ‘bribed’: IT dept

Both ministers and Gadkari deny any wrongdoing when The Indian Express reached them for comment.

In a case with a striking similarity to the Jain hawala investigation,the income tax department has roped in the CBI,the Enforcement Directorate and the Lokayukta to probe two senior Madhya Pradesh ministers after it recovered diaries from mining barons which had entries claiming the ministers had been paid bribes.

The diaries were allegedly found during income tax raids on two influential Bhopal-based businessmen,Dilip Suryavanshi of DBL group and Sudhir Sharma of SR Group,and their associates in June last year. Both businessmen are perceived to be close to the state’s ruling BJP.

The diaries contained details of alleged bribes paid to Rajendra Shukla,minister for mineral resources,Laxmikant Sharma,minister for technical education,public relations,religious trusts and culture,several senior officers of the forest department and personal staff of the ministers.

Also among the documents recovered during the raids was a letter purportedly written by Sharma’s mining business partner J S Walia,to then BJP president Nitin Gadkari,seeking Gadkari’s help to get a mining licence.

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Both ministers and Gadkari denied any wrongdoing when The Indian Express reached them for comment.

The Indian Express is in possession of the income tax documents,which have attached copies of the diaries and other documents,including the letter written to Gadkari. The income tax department has forwarded these to the CBI and ED.

“The entries recorded on page 24 clearly specify that the requirement of funds for payments to the minister; officer on special duty (OSD); under secretary was Rs 130 lakh,” says the income tax report,referring to a diary recovered during raids on Sudhir Sharma’s businesses.

“In the next set of entries,the payment of Rs 85 lakh made for the project at Jolly village are mentioned viz Rs 50 lakh to minister; Rs 20 lakh to the secretary,Rs 10 lakh to the OSD and Rs 5 lakh to the under secretary.”

These entries refer to alleged bribes paid to Shukla and mineral resources officials for land in Jolly village. Walia’s letter to Gadkari was also in connection with a licence for the same project in Jolly.

In another instance,the income tax department claims to have recovered text message details to substantiate the pay-off entries. One entry shows that “Laxmikantji” received Rs 5 lakh in two installments,and a text message saying “5 kg to Laxmikantji. Tommarow I will send”.

The income tax report claims that “kg” is code for the amount in lakhs and sleuths are believed to have connected the dots by tracking messages sent to the minister’s personal assistant and others with the entries.

Walia’s letter of June 19,2012,asked Gadkari to instruct Shukla to give a prospecting licence to S R group’s associate firm Broken Hill Mining Company. “Kind instructions to Rajendra Shukla…to grant prospecting licence in our favour as we have priority under guidelines dated 09.02.10 issued by GOI,Mineral Policy 2010 of state govt,” it said.

Walia said he was writing the letter to Gadkari after “we have (been) informed that Hon’rable Mining Minister has recommended the mineral concession to 26th applicant M/S Uro Prateek Pvt. Ltd…who has no base for priority since he does not have any plant at the moment and nor does he have any sanctioned mining lease adjoining the proposed lease area”.

The income tax investigation has calculated that Suryavanshi’s DBL group and Sharma’s SR Group had mined iron ore worth between Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000 crore in around six years but had shown only a “miniscule” portion of this in their accounts,a senior income tax official claimed.

In an unprecedented move to buttress their case,income tax officials used satellite imagery from ISRO and the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) to calculate the amount of ore extracted from the mining belts allotted to these businessmen to calculate their alleged undisclosed income.

The income tax investigation has also referred to alleged cross-border transactions running into crores of rupees by DBL.

“It is found that Banyan Tree Growth Capital LLC has invested a sum of Rs 75 crore to acquire 2,400 preference shares of Dilip Buildcon Ltd. having face value of Rs 1,00,000 at a premium of Rs 2,12,500 per share,” says one communication sent to the CBI and ED.

The income tax department suspects that the money brought by Banyan Tree,a Mauritius entity,is a case of round-tripping.

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“Payment of illegal gratification,particularly of the officials of the regulatory authorities like IBM,DGMS,forest dept. environment dept,district collector,police dept,etc.,clearly indicate that these payments have been made so that unaccounted production & sale of minerals continues smoothly & unabated,” the report says.