New Delhi: Five companies, and their executives, allocated coal blocks were named in cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and 30 locations belonging to them were being searched by the agency sleuths in 11 cities across the country Tuesday.
More companies might come under the scanner, a CBI official told IANS.
The first information report (FIR) registered Monday after three months of initial probe named the five firms, their directors and unknown government officials as having indulged in misrepresentation and dereliction of duty.
"The CBI has registered five separate cases against certain private companies, their directors and unknown public servants on Sep 3, 2012," CBI said in a release here.
The five companies named in the FIR are AMR Iron and Steel, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog, Nav Bharat Power, JLD Yavatmal Energy and JAS Infrastructure Capital. Another 20 people have been named in the FIRs.
"The cases have been registered in connection with the allegations related to getting coal blocks allocated on the basis of misrepresentations and false claims in the applications, presentations and connivance or lack of due diligence on the part of public servants," the release said.
"The promoters of some of these companies have allegedly sold their stakes in an irregular manner after allocation of coal blocks," it added.
The cases were registered following preliminary enquiry by the CBI to examine the irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks during the period 2006-09 on the basis of a reference made by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in June 2012.
"Searches are being conducted today (Tuesday) at 30 locations in 11 cities including Nagpur, Kolkata, Bhilai, Yavatmal, Raipur, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi (National Capital Region), among others," the CBI said.
"During the preliminary inquiry, we found irregularities against five companies and registered the first set of FIRs against them. It may also cover eight to 10 more companies," a senior CBI official told IANS.
"Further investigation is continuing," the official added.
The searches began in the morning and went on for over six hours. The CBI, however, did not disclose if they had found any incriminating documents or evidences from the searched premises.
Among the firms named in the FIR, JLD Yavatmal Energy is said to be linked to the family of Congress MP Vijay Darda, who has denied any wrongdoing on his part in the coal blocks allocation. It was allocated the Fatehpur East block in Chattisgarh.
Darda had recently stated that he was neither involved in any scam nor had any partnership with Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal or Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay on coal blocks allocations.
Interestingly, the FIR against JLD Yavatmal does not mention sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI also raised premises belonging to Dhanbad-based Vini Iron and Steel Udyog which was allotted Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand.
The FIR mentioned that the ownership of Vini Iron and Steel changed hands after the application for a coal block was made.
This firm had also claimed that the Vini group of companies had 15 firms under it, but nine of these have claimed they were not part of the group, the CBI official said.
The search teams also reached the office of JAS Infrastructure and Power Limited in Defence Colony here. This firm was allocated Mahuagarhi block in Jharkhand.
The premises of AMR Iron and Steel, which got the Bander block in Maharashtra, too were searched.
Nav Bharat Power, which belonged to Hyderabad-based Prasad Brothers, got Rampia and Dip side of Rampia blocks in Orissa.
The promoters of Nav Bharat sold their stakes in the company to Essar Power after the coal blocks were allotted to them and in the process hiked the price of their personal stakes, while devaluing the company's share price.