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Police lay first formal charges in India’s ‘Coalgate’ ‘Cost the treasury billions of dollars’

 NEW DELHI, March 11, (AFP): India’s federal police agency filed its first formal charges Monday over alleged wrongdoing in the awarding of coal blocks that the national government auditor says cost the treasury billions of dollars. The laying of charges in what the Indian media has dubbed “Coalgate” comes less than a week after the ruling Congress party — buffeted by a string of graft accusations — announced national elections.

A spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told AFP the police agency had filed charges against a Navabharat Power Private Ltd, based in south India, and two of its directors. “A case was registered against Navabharat Power Private Ltd,” the CBI official said. A CBI statement on the police agency’s website said the charges involved conspiracy and cheating. The CBI launched its investigations after the government auditor in 2012 accused the coal ministry of underpricing coalfields in allocating them to companies and giving away billions of dollars of public money in the process. An “investigation is continuing” into the role of public servants “if any” in the case amid allegations they failed to properly scrutinise the coal allocations, the CBI added in the statement.

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