ED arrests TMC youth leader's brother in illegal coal-mining case

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New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday arrested Vikas Mishra, brother of TMC youth leader Vinay Mishra, in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to an alleged illegal coal-mining case involving an amount of over Rs 1,300 crore, the central agency said.

Vikas Mishra was produced before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here, which sent him to a six-day ED custody, it said.

The ED claimed that the brothers received 'proceeds of crime worth Rs 730 crore on behalf of some influential persons and for themselves'.

The central agency had filed a case under criminal sections of the PMLA after studying a CBI FIR to probe charges of money laundering in coal trading and mining in West Bengal.

The CBI had questioned Rujira Banerjee, wife of Abhishek Banerjee, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP and the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in the case.

Abhishek Banerjee wields considerable influence in the party and has been leading the TMC's counter-attack in the run-up to the Assembly polls in the state.

The polls to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting March 27.

The CBI had also questioned Abhishek Banerjee's sister-in-law in connection with the case.

It had registered an FIR in November last year against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket, Anup Manjhi alias Lala, ECL general managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL security chief Tanmay Das, Kunustoria area security inspector Dhananjay Rai and Kajor area security in-charge Debashish Mukherjee.

According to ED officials, Manjhi is allegedly involved in illegal mining and theft of coal from the leasehold mines of the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) in the Kunustoria and Kajora areas.

The ED claimed that it had conducted as many as 48 raids in Delhi and Kolkata over the last two months in connection with the case that led to the seizure of 'incriminating evidence'.

'The statements of more than 40 persons were recorded,' the agency said.

'During investigation, evidence was gathered that more than Rs 1,300 crore of proceeds of crime have been generated from the illegal coal business of Anup Manjhi and a major chunk of this, around Rs 730 crore, was received by Vinay Mishra and Vikas Mishra on behalf of some influential persons and also for themselves,' the ED alleged.

The brothers are also stated to being probed by the two agencies in connection with a case of cross-border cattle smuggling along the international border between India and Bangladesh in West Bengal.

A CBI court had also issued an arrest warrant against Vinay Mishra as he is stated to have not joined probe in the cattle-smuggling case. PTI NES RC