Published On : Tue, Nov 3rd, 2020

Coal Scam : ED attaches Rs163cr assets of Nagpur co Topworth Urja

Nagpur: The enforcement directorate (ED) has attached assets worth Rs169 crore of Topworth Urja and Metals Limited (TUML), which has a steel unit and captive power plant at Umred. The company’s earlier directors are being tried by a CBI court in the coal block allocation cases of UPA regime. The present directors were discharged in the case.

The company had been allotted three coal blocks — Marki-Mangli II, III and VI in Yavatmal district. At the time of allocation, the company was known as Shree Virangana Steels.

The ED said in a press release that the assets have been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002. The ED action was based on a FIR registered by the CBI against the company and its directors.

This is a typical case of corporate riddle. The coal blocks were originally allocated to Shri Virangana Steels, where three businessmen from Nagpur — Anil Kumar Saxena, Manoj Maheshwari and Anand Sarda — were the directors. They later sold the shares to a new trio — Surendra Lodha, SK Mitra and AK Nevatia. Initially, all the six were named in the CBI FIR and charged with getting the blocks allocated through misrepresentation.

In September 2020, however, the CBI court discharged the current directors — Lodha, Mitra and Nevatia — on the grounds that the three were not part of the company when the allocation process happened. They were discharged as the alleged conspiracy had already happened before they took over, observed the court.

Management sources in Topworth say that just because it’s the same company, no matter in new hands, the ED has gone ahead and attached the assets. This is a provisional attachment.

The ED press note says that Shree Virangana Steels, now known as Topworth Urja and Metals (TUML), through misrepresentation got allotment of the three blocks. It further says 9.21 lakh metric tonne (MT) of coal was extracted illegally from 2011-12 to 2014-15 leading to an illegal gain of Rs52.50 crore. There was also a benefit of Rs20.40 crore on account of sale of excess power to the grid from the captive plant. The company generated share capital by issuing equity and preference shares on high premium benefiting to the extent of Rs96.72 crore.
This sums up to Rs169 crore, which translates into agriculture land, plant and machinery and building, which has been attached.

A management source said the case of misrepresentation for allocation does not remain because the CBI court itself has discharged the present directors. The coal extraction was done on record by paying the royalty and there was nothing clandestine about sale of excess power too.

At present, a power plant owned by the company is shut and a steel plant is working.