CBI files Coalgate FIRs on city’s Navabharat, 4 firms

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The CBI on Tuesday registered multiple FIRs against five companies for alleged criminal conspiracy to get coal blocks and initiated nationwide searches on their offices. The agency named 20 directors of the companies, including Congress MP Vijay Darda, and unknown government officials in five FIRs filed in the Coalgate scam.

According to sources, the companies booked by the CBI include JLD Yavatmal Energy Ltd, Nagpur (in which Mr Darda was a director), JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt. Ltd (Kolkata), AMR Iron and Steel Ltd (Nagpur), Navabharat Power Pvt. Ltd (Hyderabad) and Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (Kolkata).

In Hyderabad, the CBI searched the Navbharat Power in Malaxmi House, and the residences of industrialist Y. Harish Chandra Prasad and company director P. Trivikrama Prasad.

Loans shown as net worth
In Hyderabad, the CBI searched the offices of Nava Bharat Power in Malaxmi House, Hyderabad, and the residences of industrialist Yarlagadda Harish Chandra Prasad and company director P. Trivikrama Prasad. Cases have been booked against the then promoters of Nava Bharat Power, including Mr Harish Chan-dra Prasad, vice-chairman and MD of the company. Trivikrama Prasad, who has been named in the FIR, is also promoter and MD of Nava Bharat Ventures Limited. The CBI found that the company had shown bank loans as net worth to get coal blocks allocated.

CBI teams from Delhi, assisted by officials of the local unit, conducted the searches. Sources said that incriminating documents were seized. Navbharat Power, which was later sold to the Essar Group, has coal blocks of Odisha and an office in Bhubaneswar. “The company had made false claims and had misrepresented facts in the applications and presentations to get coal block allocations. The directors had connived with public servants. Promoters of Nava Bharat Power allegedly sold their stakes in an irregular manner after allocation of the coal blocks,” said a CBI official.

The coal block allocations were made between 2006 and 2009. Nava Bharat allocation was made in January 2008. The firm was sold to Essar Group. Searches were also conducted in 30 locations in 11 cities including Nagpur, Kolkata, Bhilai, Yavatmal, Raipur, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Mumbai and Delhi. Mr Harish Chandra Prasad was MD of Lanco Kondapalli Private Limited till 2005 before he started his own Malaxmi group.

According to sources, his core strength lies in obtaining clearances from the state and Central governments. He sells his stakes before the projects are grounded. He sold a power project to TD MP Nama Nageswara Rao, and also started the 250-acre SEZ, Brahmani Infratech — which is under the CBI scanner in the Jagan case. Meanwhile former coal minister Dasari Narayana Rao denied that the CBI raided his house. “There were no raids at my residence. They are baseless reports. I appeal to my followers not to take them seriously,” he said.

Mr Narayana Rao was the minister of state for coal when the allocations took place. Sources said the CBI might interrogate him based on the evidence that comes out during the investigation.

Prasad ‘grew’ firms and sold them
Serial entrepreneur Yar-lagadda Harishchandra Prasad, who was grilled by the CBI on Tuesday, is behind the formation of several companies and mega projects. Mr Prasad, a veteran of power business in AP, had modest beginings. After a stint with the city-based Spectrum Power Generation, he joined Lanco, where he headed its gas-based Kondapally power project. He quit in 2005 after differences with Lanco founder Lagadapati Rajagopal.

At that time, Mr Prasad reportedly had a 20 per cent stake in the group, which was then valued at Rs 1,200 crore. The transaction was supposed to have earned him around Rs 250 crore, which provided him with the capital to start in 2005 his own firm, Malaxmi Energy Ven-tures Private Limited, named after his mother. Immediately after, he teamed up with his cousin and Nava Bharat Ventures MD P. Trivikrama Prasad to start Nava Bharat Power Ltd — the company which is accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation of cheating by cashing out the company once the coal was alloted.

Both had entered into a definitive sale agreement with Essar Power Ltd in the 2009-10 fiscal to sell their entire stake in due course of time. In the annual return filed with Registrar of Companies in 2010, Nava Bharat Power said, “Essar Power Ltd has entered into agreements with the existing promoters for acquisition of their total equity in course of time, making Navabharat Power a wholly-owned subsid-iary of Essar Power Ltd.”

Mr Harish Chandra Prasad heads the London-based Greenko Group as non-executive chairman. Greenko operates in generation and sale of electricity and has power interests spread all over India. Greenko is almost entirely owned by financial institutions A mechanical engineer, Mr Prasad served as a director on the boards of MIC Electronics and Brahmani Infratech Private Ltd. He also has 150-acre vineyards in Karnataka.

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