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HomeReportTop Chhattisgarh bureaucrats under ED scanner, carried ‘illegal’ forex on Maldives holiday

Top Chhattisgarh bureaucrats under ED scanner, carried ‘illegal’ forex on Maldives holiday

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ED issues show cause notice to Chhattisgarh addl chief secy M.K. Raut and OSD P.K. Janawade for acquiring foreign exchange worth $13,360 and $10,020 respectively.

Two top bureaucrats of the Chhattisgarh government have come under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner, after allegations that they illegally acquired foreign exchange for a holiday trip to the Maldives with their families.

The ED has slapped a show cause notice against additional chief secretary M.K. Raut for allegedly acquiring foreign exchange worth $13,360. Former engineer-in-chief P.K. Janawade, who was reappointed as official on special duty (general administration), accompanied Raut on the trip, and has also been show caused for acquiring $10,020. Their travel agent, Raipur-based Ajay Travels, has also been show caused in the notice.

The ED notice to the parties, dated 4 September 2017, says that this amounted to a “contravention of Section 3(a) and 4 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999”.

The show cause notice requires Raut, Janawade, and Ajay Travels to respond within 30 days on why “adjudication proceedings as contemplated under Section 13 of the FEMA should not be held against” them. The notice also asks why the property involved should not be confiscated for FEMA violations.

As per the notice, accessed by ThePrint, Raut and Janawade illegally dealt in foreign exchange ahead of a New Year trip to Maldives in 2009, when they stayed at the high-end Taj Exotica Resorts & Spa.

The notice follows a 2014 complaint at the ED sub zonal office in Raipur against Raut (then principal secretary of Chhattisgarh) and Janawade.

Raut did not respond to queries by ThePrint, while Janawade declined to comment on the matter.

Probe finds discrepancies

According to an ED inquiry, Raut and Janawade booked their Maldives tour through Ajay Travels, which in turn made a booking through Thomas Cook, Kolkata.

The ED investigation into the billing and receipts showed discrepancies, with Ajay Travels saying seven family members travelled to Maldives, while Thomas Cook documentation showed cash receipts for 16 other people apart from Raut, Janawade, and their family members.

It is alleged that fake flight tickets were probably submitted at the time of purchase of foreign currency, and prima facie, it seems that the signatures of the persons were also forged.

The investigation also indicated that the amount spent on hotel bookings mentioned by the two officials did not match actual payments made by Thomas Cook for the hotel stay, a New Year’s gala dinner, and airport transfers.

Raut, Janawade, and Ajay Travels have been given a month’s time to respond to the ED notice.

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