On Friday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Saumya Chaurasia, Deputy Secretary to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, in an investigation into alleged money laundering.
Sameer Vishnoi, Laxmikant Tiwari and Sunil Kumar Agarwal of the Indramani Group were arrested in October by the ED.
According to sources, the ED investigation found “officials and politicians in the state were involved in an illegal coal transportation levy that was bringing in Rs 2-3 crore daily”.
Following her questioning by the investigation team on Friday, Chaurasia was taken into custody under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). According to sources, she got a medical checkup after the arrest.
According to the ED, they seized cash worth Rs 1.5 crore from Laxmikant Tiwari during the search and investigation. According to him, he handled Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore a day. Indramani Group’s Sunil Kumar Agrawal was found to be involved in this racket and a major business partner of Suryakant Tiwari. IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi, 2009 batch, and his wife were found with Rs 47 lakh unaccounted cash and 4 kilograms of gold jewellery.”
For every tonne of coal transported in Chhattisgarh, an illegal levy of Rs 25 per tonne was allegedly being collected by a cartel of senior bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians, and middlemen. According to the ED, proceeds of crime were being invested in Benami assets, bribed officials to influence senior officials, and used by or on behalf of political executives.
It created a network of extortion whereby every buyer/transporter of coal had to pay Rs 25 per tonne before they got the NOC from the DM’s office. They kept people who collected and moved money and shared the profits among kingpins, workers, senior IAS-IPS officers and politicians. Around Rs 2-3 crore was generated every day,” the ED said.
ED started the money laundering investigation after Income Tax Department filed an FIR.