CBI searches properties linked to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s brother

The CBI on Friday conducted searches at multiple locations across Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal in a fresh case where Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s brother Agrasen is one of the accused.

Sources said that Agrasen, who is a businessman, has been booked for alleged corruption along with others, including some government officials. Agrasen is already facing a money laundering probe by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a case of alleged diversion of fertilisers during 2007-09.

Sources said that the fresh CBI case is separate from the one being probed by the ED.

Amid political crisis in Rajasthan in July 2020, where former deputy CM Sachin Pilot had revolted against the Gehlot government and the BJP was alleged to be fishing in the troubled waters, the ED had raided Agrasen’s premises in the fertilizer diversion case.

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On July 22, 2020, ED had conducted raids at 13 places in Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi in connection with the case. The premises included those associated with Agrasen Gehlot and his company Anupam Krishi.

The alleged scam concerns Muriate of Potash (MoP), which is imported by Indian Potash Limited (IPL) and distributed to farmers, through companies, at subsidised rates. IPL is concerned with import-handling, promotion and marketing of Potash in the entire country, and is provided at subsidised rates to farmers.

According to officials, between 2007 and 2009, Agrasen Gehlot, who was an authorised dealer for IPL, bought MoP at subsidised rates and sold it to few companies, which in turn exported it to Malaysia and Singapore in the guise of Industrial Salt, instead of distributing it to farmers. MoP is under the list of items which are banned for export. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had unearthed the scam in 2012-13.

Sources said that one Shantilal Mali, of Messrs Ramdev Chemicals and Messrs Sandeep Suppliers, Sirohi, had procured MoP from Agrasain Gehlot’s Anupam Krishi, Jodhpur, which was an authorised dealer with IPL.

After procuring MoP from Anupam Krishi, the companies then allegedly arranged fake bills of Feldspar Powder and Salt from Kolkata based Messrs Classic Sales agency and Messrs Ashoka Salt Refinery Industries in Falodi, Rajasthan. The MoP was then camouflaged as Feldspar Powder or salt and exported, and never reached the farmers it was intended for.

ED sources said Gehlot and his company were eventually imposed a penalty of Rs 60 crore in connection with the case. It has alleged that over 35,000 metric tonnes of MOP worth about Rs 130 crore was diverted in the case.

The central agency decided to register a case of money laundering after the Customs Department filed a chargesheet in the case on July 13 last year, the day when Income Tax Department raided three Rajasthan based business groups said to be close to state CM. The raids were carried out in the middle of a political slugfest between Gehlot and Pilot.

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