Three months after registering a first information report against him, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday questioned Congress Member of Parliament and industrialist Naveen Jindal in connection with a case of alleged cheating and criminal conspiracy in bagging Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand in 2008.
Highly-placed sources in the agency said Jindal was summoned by the CBI after which he expressed the desire to appear before it on Thursday.
He met the investigation team in the afternoon and his examination continued till late in the evening, the sources said.
The agency conceded to his request that he should not be subjected to media glare after which the venue was changed from the CBI headquarters to a safe house where his examination took place, they said.
The agency has booked him in its 12th FIR in connection with coal blocks allocation scam registered in June this year. Former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao has also been booked by the agency in the case.
Neither the company JSPL nor Jindal gave their comments on the issue as messages and emails sent to them remained unanswered.
During its probe into the scam, it was for the first time the then Minister of State was named as an accused in an FIR by the CBI in which it was alleged that he had received Rs 2.25 crore camouflaged as investment from one of Jindal's firms within a year of allocation of a coal block to him.
CBI sources said Jindal Steel and Power Limited and Gagan Sponge Iron Limited, also a Jindal firm, had bagged Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Birbhum, Jharkhand in 2008 by alleged misrepresentation of facts when Rao was the minister of state for coal.
The CBI has claimed in its FIR that the misrepresentation was allegedly done on three counts--land, water supply and previous allocations.
The sources said JSPL had allegedly claimed in the application submitted in January 2007 that it had only three coal blocks with it whereas actually it had at least six coal blocks.
They said this was done to boost its eligibility for the coal block allocation as the government was mulling avoiding monopoly of a single company by not allocating large number of blocks to one firm.
Within a year, a block was allocated to the JSPL in January 2008, they claimed, noting that shares of Rao's firm Saubhagya Media listed at Rs 28 at that time were purchased by one of Jindal's firms New Delhi Exim Limited at whopping Rs 100 per share with a total investment of nearly Rs 2.25 crore which is alleged to be illegal gratification.
The sources said in the account books of New Delhi Exim, the said money was shown as loans from Jindal Realty which in turn had received the money as loan from Gagan Sponge Iron Limited to show it to be a genuine investment.
Besides Jindal and Rao, the CBI has also booked companies Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Gagan Sponge Iron Limited Jindal's companies--Jindal Realty and ND Exim and Rao's company Saubhagya Media.
The sources said unknown members of the screening committee, which cleared the allocations, and unknown directors of the accused private companies also figure in the FIR.