It's a tangled web that the mining mafia weaves

It's a tangled web that the mining mafia weaves

It's a tangled web that the mining mafia weaves

K Kashi Vishwanath, the “millionaire mine owner” got about a crore rupees for lending his name as proprietor of the company, but has no idea who floated the company, what transactions were made through the bank accounts, and has absolutely no idea about iron ore trade.

Vishwanath’s is a classic case of mickey mouse companies being set up to launder the black money generated by illegal mining, quoted by the U V Singh report that is part of the larger report released by N Santosh Hegde on the eve of his retirement as Lokayukta. The U V Singh report is yet to be published officially.

For the record, Vishwanath owned the company, Sri Bhakta Markandeshwara Minerals (SBMM) at Hospet. From October 23, 2009 to April 23, 2010, deposits totalling Rs 113.45 crore were debited to his three bank accounts - one in  Lakshmivilas Bank and two in Axis Bank. All the money deposited into the accounts was withdrawn. But Vishwanath is blissfully unaware of all that. At least that is what he deposed before the Income-Tax officers  on April 6, 2011 when ‘his” firm was raided. His deposition is part of the U V Singh report on illegal mining.

Vishwanath, 35, of Weavers Co-operative Colony, Hospet, owned a petty shop, before he began working in a hardware shop at Hospet. After he suddenly became the ‘owner’ of SBMM, he even obtained TIN number (LVO 500) from the Commercial Taxes Department by opening an account in Pragathi Gramin Bank by debiting Rs 3,70, 202. But the number was never used for VAT payments as all his transactions were through his three bank accounts. 

Vishwanath told I-T officers that he was the sole partner of SBMM, but sometime ago he took on board his cousin, K Govindaraj, as partner, without informing the Commercial Taxes Department. Vishwanath also stated that he has never engaged in iron ore trade.
“I am issuing the bills on the request by one Ramesh by charging 5 per cent of the iron ore value mentioned in the bill. Out of that 4 per cent VAT is deposited to the government and one per cent is kept as my commission. At the same time, I do not have any idea of iron ore trade. I do not know anything about the trading, from where it is purchased or sold”, he told the I-T officers.

He can neither remember the numbers of his three bank account numbers, nor when they were opened.

He said he had no idea about the Mines and Geology Department’s ore dispatch permits and his firm owned no iron ore stockyard.

While Vishwanath said he has never bought or sold ore, I-T officers found that his firm, as per details of the accounts at Lakshmivilas Bank, paid Rs 30 lakh to Krishnapatnam Port Company on May 31 last year, proving that it is a proxy for others, the Singh report says.

I-T officers stumbled upon the existence of SBMM while examining the electronic records of Karapudi Mahesh, an alleged associate of Reddy brothers of Bellary.

Mahesh’s financial transactions trailed to various accounts in banks of various companies and individuals. “On verification of the seized documents with respect to a particular number of Axis Bank, there is no doubt left whatsoever that the information is genuine and can be taken as evidence for any proceedings. The money drawn from two accounts reaches Sri G J Reddy Sir. And also the cash paid finally reaches for over all protection provided for illegal iron ore trade and transport. This matter required in-depth investigation by a competent authority”, the Singh report said.

The report also said that one transaction which took place on May 31, 2010 – Rs 12,50,00,000 was debited in favour of Associated Mining Company through an account at State Bank of India, Bellary. This account was jointly managed by G Janardhana Reddy and G Laxmi Aurna of Associated Mining Company (AMC). From another account of SBMM, the money trail lead to an account managed by Sri Jambunatheshwara Minerals, which was involved into illegal iron ore trade from the Hospet-Sandur-Bellary region. Eventually, the money tracking from this firm too lead to debiting the money in the account of AMC, the report said.