Searches took place in Bengaluru, Bellary, Hospet, Sandur, Goa, Salem, Kolkata, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Belgaum in connection with alleged illegal export of 21 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Belekiri port in Karnataka.

The CBI on Thursday carried out searches at 19 locations in 10 cities across the country in connection with alleged illegal export of 21 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Belekiri port in Karnataka.

CBI sources said searches took place in Bengaluru, Bellary, Hospet, Sandur, Goa, Salem, Kolkata, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Belgaum in connection with the case.

The agency has registered 22 cases in connection with illegal exports from Belekiri port in October-November 2013 on the directions of the Supreme Court.

“In the 22 FIRs, 15 companies, 6 partnership firms and 2 proprietory concerns are under investigation... 50 individuals have been identified in the FIRs connected to this probe other than public servants of the Mines and Geology Department, the Forest Department and others who would be identified only during investigation,” CBI had said in a statement.

The agency had registered cases under IPC sections related to cheating, forgery among others, provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and violation of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and Section 24 of Karnataka Forest Act, 1963.

“The mining of iron ore, without permit, including such mining in Forest Land in Bellary District of Karnataka, and connected trading and export of iron ore is already under the investigation of CBI through the report of the Centrally-Empowered Committee,” CBI had said.

It said the Committee had in September, 2012 apprised the apex court that there were also similar irregularities in extraction of 50.79 lakh tonnes from forest areas of Karnataka from 2009 to 2010.

After directives of the Supreme Court, the agency had registered a preliminary enquiry and registered 22 cases against exporters who have exported above 50,000 tonnes of iron ore while cases of 39 others who exported below 50,000 tonnes have been referred to the state government.

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