Illegal iron-ore mining case: ED conducts searches in 3 states
The searches were conducted by the Kolkata zonal headquarters of the agency in at least 15 places in Bhubaneshwar, Keonjhar, Rourkela (all in Odisha), Kolkata and Salem and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu including.
The ED officials also searched the premises of an Independent Odisha MLA Sanatan Mahakud. Messages and phone calls made to the legislator went unanswered.
Officials said agency sleuths had a tough time gaining an entry to Mahakund’s residence in Keonjhar as they were confronted by pet dogs. The MLA later helped the officials and cooperated with them.
The teams, at the close of operations in all the locations, seized “important investment documents, payment diaries, gold biscuits and some <g data-gr-id="40">jewelery</g>”.
Offices of a firm, which runs mines in Joda area of Keonjhar, were searched in Kolkata where raid teams had to negotiate their way around “half-a-dozen bouncers”, they said.
“Some transactions made in the United Kingdom by the said firm were recovered. No cash has been seized in the day-long operations,” they said.
In Tamil Nadu’s Salem district, ED teams searched the premises of a firm which provides earthmoving equipment for large tracts of iron-ore mines in Odisha in “mafia” style.
“The company tried to put pressure on the teams initially by not allowing them entry. Later, the owner of the firm flew down from Delhi on a special jet to join the probe,” they said.
ED’s Kolkata office mounted the action after taking cognizance of the Justice (<g data-gr-id="47">retd</g>) M B Shah Committee report and the criminal complaints filed by the Odisha Vigilance department in the cases of illegal iron-ore mining before registering its own FIR early this year, sources said.
Searches were also conducted at Rourkela-based premises of a woman mine owner of Odisha against whom the central probe agency has slapped charges of money laundering.
The Odisha Vigilance department had registered an FIR against these people and their firms in 2012 and filed a charge sheet against them the next year in the scam pegged at about Rs 2,000 crore, the sources said.
Officials said the operation had been codenamed ‘Earth’ and involved about 30 sleuths of the agency apart from local police officials.
ED has registered a total of three FIRs to probe money laundering instances in illegal iron-ore mining scam in eastern Indian states, the most prominent one being the <g data-gr-id="46">Uliburu</g> mining case of Odisha.