The CBI on Tuesday named Maharashtra education minister Rajendra Darda, his elder brother and Congress Rajya Sabha member Vijay Darda, and Vijay’s son Devendra as accused in one of its five FIRs in the coal scam.
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All three — along with CMD of Nagpur-based Abhijit Group Manoj Jayaswal — have been charged with criminal conspiracy and cheating.
After registering the FIRs in coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009, the CBI conducted searches at 30 locations in Delhi,Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna, Hyderabad, Dhanbad and Nagpur.
From the first batch of FIRs, Jayaswal has emerged as a key accused. Earlier, reports in the media had suggested that Jayaswal was related to Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal. When HT contacted him, the minister denied being related to Manoj Jayaswal.
Dardas and Jayaswal would be interrogated in the next few days, said CBI officials.
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“At least 10 more FIRs will be filed soon. The next layer of investigation will focus on allegations against retired and served public servants to see whether they got bribes for allocating the blocks to ineligible companies,” said a CBI official, requesting anonymity.
Rajendra Darda clarified that he got shares in his family company, JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited — which was named in one of the FIRs — in 2006 and divested them in 2008. “The whole thing (coal blocks allocation) happened much later, so I am in no way involved,” he told reporters.
Earlier in the day, Vijay Darda too had refuted allegations that he was part of the scam. Jayaswal could not be reached for comments.
“Three of the five accused companies — AMR Iron, JLD Yavatmal and JAS Infrastructure Capital — are promoted by more or less the same group of people,” said a CBI official. The two other accused companies are Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Limited and Navbharat Power.
While these companies have been charged with criminal conspiracy to get coal blocks by fudging their net worth and lying about experience in coal mining, the ownership pattern of Vini Iron allegedly changed after it applied for coal blocks.
It claimed that it had tie-ups with 15 other companies, but nine of these denied to investigators any such relationship.
“Vini Iron is being investigated for links with former tainted Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda,” said a CBI source.
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