CBI searches 17 places in K'taka, Goa

CBI searches 17 places in K'taka, Goa

Probe agency registers five cases in iron ore exports scam

CBI searches 17 places in K'taka, Goa

The Anti Corruption Branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted searches in 17 places across the State and Goa on Saturday, after registering cases against various firms and exporters, with regard to illegal export of iron ore from the Belekeri port.

CBI has registered five regular cases and one preliminary inquiry on Friday, following Supreme Court directions to register a First Information Report (FIR) against those who were involved in illegal extraction and transportation of iron ore to the tune of 50.79 lakh metric tonnes from Belekeri port in Karnataka.

The CBI had sought search warrants from Justice M S Biradar, of the Bangalore CBI Special Court.

The CBI started its search operations on Saturday morning simultaneously at Hospet, Bangalore, Karwar and Goa.

In Bangalore, five places belonging to Greentex Mining Industries, Gem Laboratories , Adani Enterprises, Salgaonkar Mining Industries and Rajmahal Silks were searched. In Hospet, teams led by Subramanyeswara Rao, SP, CBI Bangalore searched four places, including the house and office of Swastik Nagaraj, a close aide of jailed mining baron G Janardhana Reddy.

Offices of S B Logistics and SMSK Traders were also searched and officers were scrunitising documents till late in the evening. It is interesting to note that the office and residences of Kharapudi Mahesh, another of Reddy’s close aides wasn’t searched as was expected. Sources say that the searches were carried out based on the CEC report, in which his name did not figure. He might be questioned further in the case, they say.

Another CBI team visited the Belekeri Port and scrutinised certain documents in the port office.  The team also conducted searches at the residence of Sateesh Krishna Sail, local Congress leader and the owner of office premises of Shree Mallikarjuna Shipping Company.

The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to investigate the case relating to illegal extraction of 50.79 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore from the forest area of Karnataka between January 1, 2009 and May 31, 2010.

The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in its report had recommended CBI probe against exporters ILC Industries Ltd, Dream Logistics Company Ltd, S B Logistics and Shree Mallikarjuna Shipping Pvt Ltd. The panel had further named seven companies, among them Swastik Steels Pvt Ltd, Swastik Cement and Minerals, SMSK Mineral Trading Company and Eagle Trading.

The court also noted that of this quantity about eight lakh metric tonnes was lying under the seizure of the authorities, which was allowed to be exported to foreign companies from the Belekeri port allegedly by four Port Service Providers (stevedores) Adani Enterprises Ltd, Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Pvt Ltd, Salgaoncar Mining Industries Pvt Ltd and Rajmahal Silks.

The five FIRs registered by the CBI on Friday lists all of the above companies in its FIRs. The CBI has taken the Lokayukta Report submitted by former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde and the CEC Report as the basis for the FIRs.

The CBI has also initiated a preliminary inquiry against 18 companies that exported more than five lakh tonnes of iron ore through Belekeri Port between January 1, 2009 and May 5, 2010 and also against 51 exporters who have exported close to 21.81 lakh tonnes of iron ore in the same period through Belekeri.

 The CBI is set to register independent FIRs based on the evidence and information that comes out during the investigation.

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