CBI begins probe into Rs 487 crore coal import scam
The agency has booked NTPC officials, Coastal Energy Private Limited promoter under the charges of criminal conspiracy cheating and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.india Updated: Jan 23, 2018 19:26 IST
The CBI has registered an FIR against unnamed officials for importing inferior coal from Indonesia as high quality between 2011 and 2015, which led to an overpayment of Rs 489 crore by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Aravali Power Company.
Officials of the government-owned NTPC, the Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) and Aravali Power are named in the case along with AR Burhari, a promoter of the Chennai-based Coastal Energy Private Limited (CEPL).
The Aravali Power is joint venture between the NTPC and governments of Haryana and Delhi and the two companies run coal-fired thermal power plants. To meet their fuel needs, they import coal by floating global tenders.
According to the FIR, the Chennai-based CEPL was awarded the contract after a successful bid to supply coal to the NTPC and Aravali Power. The CEPL singed back-to-back agreements later with its sister concerns in Dubai.
Another public sector undertaking, the MMTC, was awarded supply contracts too and it had an agreement with the CEPL and two other firms, which contracted coal exporters form Indonesia, the FIR says.
The CBI alleged that on the basis of artificially inflated invoices and manipulated test reports low quality coal was passed off as high quality.
According to a government notification of 2010, thermal grade coal import from Indonesia was granted concessional rate of duty. To avail concession, a certificate of origin issued by a government authority of the exporting country is required. The certificate mentions the value of coal being exported and the price is determined in accordance with quality.
But in order to avoid submission of factual documents and hide value of import, MMTC and CEPL didn’t apply for the custom duty concession in several consignments, though they were bound by contract to pass the benefit in custom duty to the NTPC and Aravali Power, the CBI alleged.
The investigating agency suspected the alleged fraud cannot happen without the knowledge of officials in the NTCP and Aravali Power.
The MMTC and CEPL imported 90 and 57 consignments respectively, of which 143 consignments were for NTPC and four for Aravali Power.
According to the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), which looks into custom duty violations, over-invoicing to the tune of Rs 487 crore was done by the MMTC and CEPL.