Chhattisgarh EOW-ACB registers cases in coal, liquor 'scams'; 105 persons named

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Raipur, Jan 26 (PTI) The Chhattisgarh Economic Offence Wing/Anti Corruption Bureau has registered two FIRs in connection with the alleged coal levy and liquor scams based on the complaint of the Enforcement Directorate which has been probing the money laundering aspect.

Seventy persons, including several Congress leaders, have been named in the FIR related to the alleged liquor scam, while 35 have been in the coal levy irregularities, an ACB official said.

"Two separate FIRs under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code have been registered. Congress leaders, including two former ministers in the previous Bhupesh Baghel government, IAS officials, traders etc have been named," he informed.

In coal levy scam FIR, the 35 accused include former minister Amarjeet Bhagat, Congress MLA Devendra Yadav, former MLAs UD Minj, Gulab Kamro, Chandradev Prasad Rai, Shishupal Sori and Birhaspat Singh, IAS officers Sameer Bishnoi and Ranu Sahu as well as then deputy secretary in CMO Soumya Chaurasia, he said.

"In the liquor scam , 70 people and companies, including former excise minister Kawasi Lakhma, former chief secretary Vivek Dhand, Congress leader Anwar Dehbar and others have been named," the official added.

In the coal levy FIR, the ACB claimed Suryakant Tiwari was the mastermind of the scam, under which Rs 25 per tonne of coal transported in the state was extorted by a cartel involving senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians and middlemen.

As per the coal levy scam FIR, the Enforcement Directorate initiated money laundering investigation, conducted searches, arrested 11 persons and provisionally attached proceeds of crime worth Rs 220 crore.

During the course of its money laundering investigation, the ED came across many more predicate crimes, which fall within the jurisdiction of ACB and EOW Chhattisgarh, and, thus, the same are being disclosed by the investigative agency, it said.

It said a syndicate comprising private individuals like Suryakant Tiwari and state government functionaries like Saumya Chaurasia, Sameer Vishnoi, mining officials with the backing of political executives managed to make deliberate policy changes.

The cartel extorted Rs 540 crore between July 2020 and June 2022 as per hand diaries and this amount was utilised as per the instructions of Tiwari and Chaurasia, the FIR stated.

As per the ED, the probe into the alleged liquor scam revealed criminal acts resulting in loss to the exchequer and undue illegal profits to those involved. It had estimated the proceeds of the crime to be around Rs 2,161 crore.

Slamming the BJP government in the state, former chef minister Bhupesh Baghel said the move was politically motivated.

For the last three years, the ED and IT were probing the cases and now they have recommended the ACB to register an offence, Baghel said.

"Earlier the names of several of our party leaders did not come up in the probe but now their names have been mentioned in the (EOW/ACB) FIRs. It has been done to defame them ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. UD Minj was named because he contested polls against Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai," the senior Congress leader alleged.

Refuting these claims, CM Sai said, "The ED is an independent agency and it has been doing its job. It has nothing to do with elections." PTI TKP BNM BNM