CBI files case in Rs 487 cr coal import scam

New Delhi, Jan 23:  The CBI has registered a case against certain officials of NTPC, MMTC, APCPL and a private energy firm on charges of cheating the exchequer of Rs 487 crore by importing inferior quality coal from 2011-12 to 2014-15, an official said on Tuesday.

The central agency registered the FIR on Monday after taking cognisance of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence's investigation into the import of inferior coal of Indonesian origin while showing it as of superior quality.

In the FIR, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named Ahmed A.R. Buhari, promoter of Chennai-based Coastal Energy Pvt Ltd, and unidentified officials of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) and Aravali Power Company Pvt Ltd (APCPL).

The NTPC and MMTC are central government undertakings while the APCPL is a joint venture company wherein the NTPC owns 50 per cent stake and 25 per cent stake each is owned by the Haryana and Delhi governments.

The accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct by public servants, and cheating, under the Indian Penal Code. 

"The unidentified officials of NTPC, APCPL and MMTC entered into a criminal conspiracy with officials of Coastal Energy Pvt Ltd and others to cheat the Indian government in the import of coal of Indonesian origin by fraudulently showing inferior quality as superior," the CBI FIR said. 

According to the CBI FIR, the NTPC and APCPL are engaged in operation of coal-based thermal power stations and to meet their requirements they import coal by floating global tenders. 

It said that Coastal Energy Pvt Ltd (CEPL) and MMTC were successful in getting contracts for the supply of coal to the NTPC and the APCPL.

The FIR said that the CEPL was sourcing coal with lower Gross Calorific Value through its intermediary firms based in Dubai while the MMTC entered into a tripartite agreement with CEPL, CNO LL and CNO DM firms for coal import. 

"The CNO LL and CNO DM entered into further separate agreements with coal exporters in Indonesia for the import of inferior coal with lesser value."

"On the basis of artificially inflated invoices and manipulated test report, 147 consignments of coal were sold to the MMTC through the CEPL as coal of higher grade for further supply to the NTPC and the APCPL at higher prices. The MMTC and CEPL have declared inflated values of the consignments of coal at the time of import, and on this value, the NTPC and the APCPL made payments to these entities."

The FIR said the importers -- CEPL and MMTC-- in order to avoid submission of factual documents, had also refrained from availing the customs duty exemption available for coal of Indonesian origin while importing consignments of coal.

Citing the investigation done earlier by the Mumbai branch of the DRI, the CBI FIR said "over invoicing of more than Rs 363 crore was done on the coal imported by MMTC and Rs 124 crore by CEPL". 

Source: IANS