Investigations into the allocation of coal block to Kolkata-based Vikash Metal and Power Ltd, promoted by Vimal Patni, has revealed that the promoters were mired in litigations involving Income Tax and Excise department. Sources said the Patnis were raided by the Income Tax department in 2004 in connection with another company they owned, Impex Group. Huge sum of money and shares were seized during the raids.
The Income Tax department had also alleged then that Vimal Patni and his son Vikash Patni did not file their returns since 1998. Both have been named in CBI’s FIR registered against Vikash Metal.
Impex Group also came under the scanner of the Central Excise department in 2005. The company had been accused of concealing the stock of sponge iron at its Bolpur godown in West Bengal.
CBI said it is examining the documents seized during the raids and will soon summon the directors of Vikash Metal for questioning.
In its FIR against Vikash Metal, the CBI alleged that “poor credentials” of the company which included the tax litigation were suppressed by its directors while applying for the coal block at Moira-Madhujore (North and South) in 2009 in West Bengal.
Agency sources said coal ministry officials initially ignored this and allocated the coal block. However, they soon realised their mistake and tried to cancel the coal block by using the joint venture clause.
A letter dated August 24, 2009 (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) was issued by the ministry to six private companies threatening to withdraw the ‘offer letter’ for the coal block.
In its letter, the ministry asked all the six firms “to submit a joint venture agreement and intimate the option to develop the coal block within the stipulated time frame”. Other companies which were allocated Moira-Madhujore (North and South) blocks were Ramsarup Lohh Udyog, Uttam Galva Steels Ltd, Adhunik Corporation Ltd, Howrah Gases ltd and ACC Ltd.
During its probe, the CBI found that the companies managed to submit the JV agreement and coal block was not canceled. After this, the coal ministry also came to know that