THE CBI has registered a corruption case against Agrasen Gehlot, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s brother, and 14 others related to the alleged diversion of subsidised fertilizers meant for farmers in 2007-09, and carried out searches at his Jodhpur home and 16 other locations in three States, officials said on Friday.
After registering the case on Wednesday evening, more than 60 officials of the CBI swooped down at over 15 locations in Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal on Friday to carry out searches in connection with the case, they said. It is alleged that the accused conspired with each other along with Government and Indian Potash Ltd officials to export 24,003 MT (metric tonne) of Muriate of Potash, meant for distribution among farmers at a subsidised rates, to South-East Asian countries, Saudi Arabia and other markets in the guise of industrial salt in violation of restrictions placed on its exports by the central Government in 2007-09 causing a loss of Rs 52.8 crore to the Government, officials said.
“Muriate of Potash (MOP), a restricted item, could be exported only with the prior permission of the Government of India. The imported MOP is supplied by the Indian Potash Limited (IPL) to farmers through its authorised dealers at subsidized rates and claims the subsidy from the Government,” the CBI said in a statement.
It is alleged that Agrasen Gehlot ran one of the accused dealership Anupam Krishi which purchased MOP from IPL and instead of supplying it to farmers at subsidized rates, sold it to other dealers who further sold it to export firms -- Saraf Impex Pvt Ltd; M/s. Shivam Chemicals and M/s. Kailashpati
Chemicals & Minerals and Industries. The modus operandi was followed by other dealerships as well, they said, adding that the agency has booked 14 other dealers, traders and exporters involved in the illicit practice.
In order to avoid prying eyes of Customs and other agencies, the exporters repackaged MOP as feldspar powder also called industrial salt which was sent abroad packaged in high-density polythene bags.
“Further to cover up the transaction, fictitious purchases of the feldspar powder/industrial salt through dealers in Rajasthan and Kolkata were allegedly shown. It was alleged that the accused had hatched a conspiracy during 2007 to 2009 with others including unidentified officials of the Central Board of Excise and Customs and Indian Potash Limited etc. and fraudulently helped to purchase and export total 24,003 MT of Muriate of Potash in the guise of industrial salt/feldspar powder, causing loss of subsidy of Rs 52.8 crore (approx) to Government of India,” the statement alleged.
The CBI FIR resulted from a preliminary inquiry registered on June 22 last year.
After registering the case on Wednesday evening, a team of CBI officials also reached Agrasen Gehlot’s residence in Mandore, Jodhpur, to conduct searches.
In addition to provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI has also invoked Indian Penal Code sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) among others in the FIR.
The CBI has also named Deen Dayal Bohra, Amrit Lal Bandi, Brijesh Jairam Nath, Nitin Kumar Shah, Sunil Sharma and Praveen Saraf, unidentified officials of Indian Potash Limited and Customs department as accused in the FIR, they said.