Coal scam: ED attaches assets of ex-Coal Min Dasari Rao

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today attached assets worth about Rs 2 crore of former Coal Minister Dasari Narayana Rao in connection with its money laundering probe in the coal blocks allocation scam case.

Sources said an order for attachment of two vehicles, a few fixed deposit receipts worth Rs 50 lakh and a residential premise of Rao, a Minister of State (MoS) in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, was issued by the agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

“The estimated value of the said assets is about Rs 2 crore,” sources said.

The orders for freezing of these assets will be in place for the next 180 days during which the affected party can appeal it to the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA.

Rao, who had been questioned by ED in this case late last year, has been made an accused in the allocation of the coal blocks in a case related to the Jindal group.

The role of Rao, a former Congress Rajya Sabha MP and noted Telugu film producer/director, is also under investigation in the routing of an amount of Rs 2.25 crore from a firm of Jindal-ND Exim to Soubhagya Media in which he is said to have interest.

ED suspects this amount to be the “proceeds of crime” and kickbacks given in return for coal blocks allocation.

During the recording of statement and questioning by ED, Rao had told investigators that he was the Director of the media firm between 2008-11 and that the money from Jindal group had come to it after this period and hence it was not tainted.

Rao has earlier denied allegations and charges of corruption and money laundering being framed against him by both ED and CBI.

The Andhra Pradesh-based politician was MoS (Coal) between 2004 to 2006 and in his second term from 2006 to 2008.

ED had slapped a PMLA case in May last year against Rao, former Congress MP and businessman Naveen Jindal, M/s Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd, M/s Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), M/s Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, M/s New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, M/s Sowbhagya Media Ltd, besides some unnamed persons.

The agency, in order to file a money laundering case against these entities, took cognisance of a CBI FIR against them and also named members and officials of the 35th screening committee (government constituted multi-member body).

A PMLA attachment is aimed at depriving the accused of money laundering from taking benefits of his or her ill-gotten wealth.