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Chhattisgarh coal levy scam: 152 crore in assets seized as part of money laundering investigation, says ED

In the coal levy scam money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate has attached moveable and immovable assets, including flats, jewellery, coal washeries, and plots. These assets are believed to belong to Chhattisgarh government bureaucrats – Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s Deputy Secretary Saumya Chaurasia, IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi, and others – arrested. According to an initial investigation, Chaurasia, Vishnoi, and some coal traders allegedly created benami assets in the names of their relatives.

During its search of more than 75 locations, the ED acquired incriminating evidence, including evidence from the mining divisions at the DC offices of Korba and Raighad. In addition to recording statements from around 100 individuals, an investigation has revealed that policy changes were implemented as part of a grand conspiracy. A government order issued by the director of mining was issued on July 15, 2020 to modify an existing efficient online system for issuing transportation permits and to introduce a manual layer where coal users would be required to apply for a no objection certificate (NOC) with the state mining officers,” a spokesperson for the Department of Energy stated on Saturday.

This order armed the extortionists with the means to extort at the rate of Rs 25 per tonne of coal transported. Henchmen such as Suryakant Tiwari were deployed in various regions to extort funds from coal transporters and industrialists. “His team coordinated physically with lower-level government officials, coal transporters, and representative companies,” the spokesperson stated. Without the knowledge and active participation of the state machinery, systemic extortion wouldn’t have been possible. The agency is investigating all aspects of the extortion racket right now. At least Rs 540 crore has been extorted in the last two years, according to the investigation. Thousands of handwritten diaries have been analysed by the ED. According to the spokesperson, seized WhatsApp chats and statements corroborated the diary entries.

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