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CBI books Adani Enterprises over irregularities in coal supply contract

CBI books Adani Enterprises over irregularities in coal supply contract
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New Delhi: The CBI has registered its first case against Gautam Adani's Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), where the company has been accused of allegedly conspiring with senior officials of the National Cooperative Consumer Federation (NCCF) to obtain the contract of supplying imported coal to the Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO) in July 2010, officials here said.

The CBI has booked then NCCF Chairman, Virender Singh, then MD, GP Gupta and then Senior Manager, SC Singhal in the case along with AEL and other unknown public officials, alleging that the accused three senior officials had made all decisions pertaining to the deal without constituting a Head-Office level Committee, as is procedure.

The central agency has alleged that the tender irregularities were spotted in one tender floated by APGENCO in June 2010 for the supply of 6 lakh MT of imported coal for its thermal power plants in Vijayawada and Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.

According to the CBI, NCCF's Hyderabad branch had received this tender enquiry, after which Gupta Coal India Limited and Maheshwari Brothers Coal Limited (MBCL) had quoted their respective margins in July of the same year. In their tender applications, AEL along with Vyom Trade Link Pvt Ltd (VTLPL) and Kyori Oremin Ltd had not quoted any margins.

The agency has now alleged that one Munish Sehgal informed AEL about MBCL offering the NCCF margin of 2.25 per cent from inside the meeting where the bids were considered, following which the company wrote to NCCF agreeing to its margin of 2.25 per cent. The CBI has alleged that despite Adani Enterprises being disqualified from the tender process due to non-submission of a margin, the company was awarded the contract by NCCF through its top management, which included Singh, Gupta and Singhal.

In fact, the agency has said that when the tender was initially floated, officials of NCCF had picked MBCL to supply all the coal without calling for an open tender, saying that the seven-day window was too short to invite open bids. Interestingly, after APGENCO extended the deadline for the tender by five days, MBCL's contract was cancelled and an open tender was called for, where AEL bid.

Moreover, the central agency has alleged that VTLPL was allegedly a proxy company set up by AEL and withdrew its bid at the last moment on very flimsy grounds, according to the FIR. The agency has claimed that Adani Enterprises had given out an unsecured loan of Rs 16.81 crore to VTLPL in 2008-09, following which they purportedly found that the bank guarantees of both companies were issued by the same bank at the same time.

Officials here said that the case was converted into an FIR from a preliminary enquiry that was registered in 2017 on the basis of a complaint from the Consumer Affairs Ministry and that the accused NCCF officials had several times misled their peers and superiors in pursuance of their alleged

conspiracy.

Interestingly, after news of the case broke, Gautam Adani met with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her office.

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