Fertiliser import scam: ED attaches assets of IFFCO MD Udai Shanker Awasthi valued at Rs 20.96 Cr

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has provisionally attached proceeds of crime in the form of immovable assets valued at Rs. 20.96 Crore belonging to Udai Shanker Awasthi, Managing Director of IFFCO, in its ongoing investigations against Directors of IFFCO & Indian Potash Limited (IPL) and others.

The attached properties include residential houses at New Delhi (including the residential property located at Hauz Khas Enclave which he had got transferred to himself from IFFCO), Gurugram and Himachal Pradesh under Section 5 of Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 on 2 June 2022.

Earlier, ED had attached movable assets (FDRs) valued at Rs. 27.79 Crore in the name of Amarendra Dhari Singh, USD 4754606 (approx. Rs. 36.55 Crore as per prevailing exchange rate) lying in the Swiss Bank Accounts of Atrium Holdings Limited and Artistic Holdings Limited (both beneficially owned by Pankaj Jain) and residential & commercial properties valued at Rs. 54.11 lakh belonging to Pankaj Jain in this case. Thus, the total attachment in this case comes to about Rs. 86 Crore so far.

ED initiated money laundering investigation on the basis of registration of a case by CBI [RC221/2021/E/0009 dated 17 May 2021] against various suspects including Udai Shanker Awasthi, MD IFFCO, Pankaj Jain, Promoter of Jyoti Trading Corporation and Rare Earth Group, Dubai, Amarendra Dhari Singh and others for criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.

Investigations by ED have revealed that Udai Shanker Awasthi & others in IFFCO generated Proceeds of Crime and layered it through various unrelated entities and part of PoC was then transferred to the entities controlled by Udai Shanker Awasthi and others.

ED had also filed a Prosecution Complaint before the Special Court on 30 July 2021 against 6 accused and the Court has taken cognizance of the offence. The Court further held that all accused persons knowingly assisted or were knowingly involved in acquisition of proceeds of crime and hence were liable to be summoned for the said offence and proceeded to issue summons to the accused persons.

Besides Udai Shanker Awasthi, one of the owners and director of Tradex Group Ajay Kumar Gupta also had come under the scanner of India’s premier investigating agencies in this case. According to available information, Gupta had set up base in Dubai when the investigators were in hot pursuit.

A former CEO of the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC), Walid Kurdi, had exploited his office by setting up Astra, an intermediary company that bought fertilisers from JPMC at preferential prices and sold the fertilisers to “the Indian buyer” at higher prices, This allegedly made substantial profits to Astra at the expense of JPMC estimated at hundreds of million dollars. Subsequent investigation established that Astra was owned by Tradex. Dealings between JPMC and Tradex can be traced back to the nineties of the last Century. Kurdi was even prosecuted “abuse of office” and embezzlement and sentenced 37.5 years in prison in absentia. During his prosecution, the defence argued that the dealings between Astra and JPMC was in compliance with a request in writing by Indian buyer – Indian Potash Limited (IPL). In the later part of 2016 the European Courts acquitted Kurdi, of charges against him that the money in his bank account was the proceeds of criminal activity. It was also held by the European courts that the practices adopted by the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the JPMC did not amount to crimes of theft, embezzlement or plunder.

During the period in querion, one of the directors of IPL was Dr. Udai Shanker Awasthi, who has been the Managing Director of Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) since February 1993.

In the interim those in knowledgable circles are asking many questions linked with this case. They want to know when ED will tighten the noose around “others” (mentioned in the FIR registered by the CBI) who are allegedly involved in the conspiracy linked with the fertiliser import scam. In the backdrop of this case is also an Income Tax scrutiny that has not seen the light of day. Anita Kapur was the Chairman Central Board of Direct Taxes when a file relating to a probe by the Income Tax department into a Rs. 1000 million FDI in favour of the Tradex group was closed. Her husband Rakesh Kapur, an ex-Indian Revenue Service Officer, is the joint Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of IFFCO.

Newsroom24x7 was the first to expose this scam. Check

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