Coal mining scam: Abhishek Banerjee's aide declared proclaimed offender
A Delhi court has declared Vinay Mishra, an alleged associate of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, as a proclaimed offender for evading court proceedings in connection with a money laundering probe into an alleged coal mining scam in West Bengal, officials said on Saturday.
The declaration has been made under section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which requires the appearance of an accused before the court, they said.
Mishra, 36, is an accused in the case where the role of Banerjee, his wife Rujira and others is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The federal agency has questioned and recorded the statement of both Banerjee and Rujira in the case.
The ED has said Mishra never joined the probe.
The money laundering case stems from a November, 2020 FIR registered by the CBI that alleged a multi-crore-rupee coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Limited mines in West Bengal's Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
A charge sheet was filed by the ED in the case in May last year.
Vinay Mishra's brother Vikas Mishra was arrested by the ED in the case apart from two other accused.
Vinay Mishra is also being probed by the CBI in this alleged illegal coal mining and pilferage scam case. Both the central agencies are also probing his role in a cross-border cattle smuggling case running along the India-Bangladesh international border in West Bengal.
The ED has claimed that the Mishra brothers received "proceeds of crime worth Rs 730 crore on behalf of some influential persons and for themselves" in the coal case involving an estimated amount of Rs 1,352 crore.
The ED had earlier told a court that it recorded the statement of a witness in this case who informed the agency that "it is a known fact that Vinay Mishra collected money from illegal coal mining of Anup Majhi (local coal trader and prime accused in the case) and his associates for his closely associated political boss in the present ruling party; and that Vinay Mishra is a youth leader of TMC and he is very close to Abhishek Banerjee and that he (Vinay Mishra) is the eyes and ears of Abhishek Banerjee."
It had also attached seven land parcels and two flats located in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata in West Bengal owned by Vinay Mishra and Vikas Mishra, having book value of Rs 48.57 lakh last year.
The CBI has also declared two separate rewards of Rs 1 lakh each for anyone giving actionable information leading to Vinay Mishra's arrest in either of the two cases.
In a recent public advertisement, the CBI said Vinay Mishra "acted as a middleman link to collect illegal gratification on behalf of public servants and used to give patronage and protection to the smugglers using his connections in lieu of money routed through non-existent shell companies."
The CBI has moved the Interpol seeking a Red Notice (global arrest warrant) against Mishra and attempts are being made to bring him back from the island country of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean where he had reportedly taken citizenship in 2020, officials had said.