CBI: But was he aware of goings on in Navbharat Power?

The former Coal Secretary, P.C. Parakh, embroiled in a controversy over coal block allocation, has defended his joining the Hyderabad-based Navbharat Power as Director in 2007, post-retirement. He contended that Navbharat Power did not get a mine when he was heading the Ministry and hence there could be no quid pro quo.

However, the CBI doesn’t seem totally convinced and claims to be in possession of more evidence “which will be revealed later.” A top CBI source said the agency had enough prima facie material based on which the FIR was filed against Mr. Parakh. The source was quick to add that only further investigation would establish criminality substantively.

“It is also possible that criminality is not established eventually and the case goes for a closure. This has happened in many cases,” said the CBI source.

Interestingly, the coalmines acquired by Navbharat Power were sold to the Essar Group in a deal in which the latter acquired 50% stake. The sale was made on a handsome profit of over Rs. 200 crore in 2010. The mines were located in Odisha and the CBI filed a case against Navbharat Power promoters after it found that the company had made false declarations to acquire the mines.

After raids on many of its premises in 2012, Navbharat Power was booked for forgery and criminal conspiracy. Its directors P. Trivikrama Prasad and Y. Harish Chandra Prasad were named in the FIR. The Prasad brothers owned two other companies, Navbharat Ventures and Mahalaxmi Energy. The FIR alleges that Navbharat sold its blocks to Essar Power at an inflated price and made a wrongful gain of Rs. 200 crore.

The CBI complaint says the firm made fictitious claims at the time of filing its application. The CBI says, the firm claimed to have entered into a memorandum of understanding for 90 days with a Singapore-based energy company, whose net worth it cited as around Rs. 2.5 crore, but this MoU had expired by the time it filed the application. Navbharat again claimed it was associated with one Suez Energy International, with a net worth of Rs. 1 lakh crore.

The CBI says Suez Energy was never associated with Navbharat. One doesn’t know whether Mr. Parakh was aware of any of these facts at the time he was director on the board of the company.

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