Millennium Post

ED summons Raj CM's elder brother for questioning in PMLA case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's elder brother for questioning in a money-laundering case linked to alleged financial irregularities in exporting fertiliser, officials said Tuesday.

Agrasain Gehlot has been asked to depose before the investigating officer on Wednesday in Delhi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.

On July 22, the central agency raided Agrasain Gehlot's premises in Jodhpur and a few other places in connection with the case filed under the criminal charges of PMLA.

Officials said the agency seized a number of documents during the raids and Agrasain Gehlot will be confronted with these during his questioning. Some other people involved in the case are also understood to have been summoned by the probe agency.

The raids happened after the agency filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR, in the 2007-09 Customs department case registered for alleged irregularities in the procurement and export of subsidised Muriate of Potash (MOP) meant for farmers and investigation in this case was finalised in 2013.

The ED took cognisance of the Customs FIR and a July 13 charge sheet to press money-laundering charges to probe a "smuggling syndicate" allegedly run by Agrasain Gehlot, his firm Anupam Krishi and others, officials said.

The agency said the case pertains to fraudulent export of MOP in the guise of industrial salts to buyers based in Malaysia and Taiwan. The MOP is a restricted commodity for exports so that it is easily available to farmers in the country.

The raids happened at a time when a political slugfest was on between CM Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.

Pilot, a former Union minister, was sacked as Rajasthan deputy CM and PCC chief recently.

Responding to the raids, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told reporters in Jaipur, "Prime Minister Modi has created 'raid raj' in the country but we are not going to be scared."

When the Centre's "gimmicks" failed to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan, ED raids started at the premises of Gehlot's elder brother, he had said.

Agency sources had said Agrasain Gehlot and his firm were slapped with over Rs 60 crore penalty by the Customs department for these alleged export irregularities in 2013.

It is alleged that Gehlot's company "diverted" 35,000 metric tonnes of MOP that had a value of Rs 130 crore in the international market.

The ED alleged Agrasain Gehlot, in his capacity as a dealer, was the custodian of the MOP and was "solely responsible" for its proper distribution to farmers, and his alleged connivance with the company Saraf Impex Pvt Ltd and others resulted in the diversion of MOP that was imported by Indian Potash Limited at a concessional rate of duty.

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