CBI books Adani Enterprises, others for criminal conspiracy
The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a case of corruption and criminal conspiracy against Adani Enterprises Ltd and top officials of the National Cooperative Consumer Federation (NCCF) for allegedly manipulating a tender in 2010 to give the company a contract to supply imported coal to a state-run power firm.
The agency claimed it has been investigating officials of Adani Enterprises and NCCF since 2017 on a complaint from the ministry of consumer affairs as part of a preliminary enquiry (PE). An FIR was registered on Wednesday. An FIR is typically registered only if the enquiry unearths possible irregularities.
The FIR names Adani Enterprises Ltd, NCCF’s executives at the time -- former Chairman Virender Singh, former MD G P Gupta, and senior advisor S C Singhal -- and unknown public servants as accused.
Last week, the Supreme Court paved the way for the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, which looks at irregularities in imports and exports (aimed at evading tax, or benefiting from incentives), to restart its investigation against the Adani group in a case concerning alleged overvaluation of coal imports from Indonesia. The apex court stayed the October 17, 2019 judgment of the Bombay high court which granted relief to Adani by quashing the letters rogatory (LRs) sent to various countries, including Singapore seeking details of the group’s coal imports from Indonesia.
“There is a news item about lodging of an FIR by the CBI against the National Cooperative Consumer Federation and Adani Enterprises Ltd related to supply of imported coal. The subject matter is an old one. Adani Enterprises Ltd has complied with the process, formalities and relevant laws ... The company has not done anything wrong in supply of coal. It’s a preliminary investigation report only. The company shall respond to the same and shall also put forth the factual position to the authority,” Adani spokesperson said in a statement.
According to the FIR, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT, Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO) floated a limited tender enquiry for the supply of six lakh Metric Tonnes of imported coal from sea ports to Narla Tata Rao Thermal Power Plant in Vijaywada and Rayalaseema Thermal Power Plant (RTPP) in Kadapa on June 29, 2010. This was forwarded to seven state-owned companies: PEC Limited New Delhi, STC Limited New Dehi, MSTC Limited Kolkata, NCCF Hyderabad, MMTC Hyderabad, Coal India Ltd Kolkata and SCCL Hyderabad.
CBI alleges that senior NCCF officials committed irregularities by way of manipulation in the selection of the bidders, thereby giving undue favour to Adani Enterprises Ltd.
The NCCF head office initially asked Maharaja Brothers Coal Limited (MBCL) to take up the job; the company agreed to give NCCF a margin of 2.25%. It later cancelled this order and floated an open tender. Adani Enterprises was one of the six companies that filed bids. The other five companies were: MBCL , Vyom Trade Links Pvt Ltd, Swarana Projects Ltd, Gupta Coal India Ltd and Kyori Oremen Ltd. Vyom, CBI alleged, was a proxy of Adani Enterprises. Adani didn’t quote any margin while Gupta Coal quoted a margin of 11.3%.
When the bids were initially processed, the FIR claims, Adani Enterprises’ representative was informed (by NCCF) about the imminent rejection of its bid due to non-submission of margin and that the eligible bidder MBCL, had quoted 2.25%. Subsequently Adani quoted the same margin.
Gupta Coal was rejected on the grounds of not fulfilling tender conditions.
A decision was taken by top NCCF officials to give the contract to Adani Enterprises, CBI said, adding that senior officers of NCCF also held post-tender negotiations with Adani Enterprises to give it undue benefits even though the company did not qualify.
“Instead of cancelling the bid of Adani Enterprises Ltd, senior management of NCCF conveyed the offer margin of NCCF to the company through one of its representatives Munish Sehgal who was sitting in the NCCF head office on July 10, 2010 in the evening and subsequently Adani Enterprises Ltd, on the same day informed NCCF that they agree to pay minimum margin charge of 2.25 per cent to NCCF,” the CBI FIR states.