New Delhi/Kolkata: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today launched simultaneous searches in three states in connection with its money laundering probe in illegal mining of iron-ore scam in Odisha and other states, pegged at about Rs 2,000 crore.
Sources said the searches are being 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.
“Multiple teams of the agency assisted by local police are conducting the searches. The action is being carried out as part of an FIR registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” they said.
The sources said the ED Kolkata office took cognisance of the Justice (retd) M B Shah committee report and also the criminal complaints filed by Odisha vigilance department in these cases of illegal iron-ore mining before registering its own FIR.
They said the searches are also being carried out at the premises of Champua (Keonjhar district) MLA Sanatan Mahakud and a woman Congress politician of Odisha against whom ED has slapped charges of money laundering. Among the places being raided by the central agency are Triveni Earthmovers, Sirajuddin & Co and a transport company in which Mahakud is a partner.
The agency is also searching the premises of a Tamil Nadu-based mining operative who was running ‘mafia’ style iron-ore mining operations in Odisha, they said.
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 has been code-named ‘Earth’ and is expected to carry on till late into the day.
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 Uliburu mining case of Odisha.