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Delhi HC to hear plea seeking SIT probe on over-invoicing by power firms

By Deepika

Delhi-based NGOs, Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Common Cause on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the alleged over- invoicing of Indonesian coal and power equipment to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore by Adani and Essar groups. The high court will now hear the case on September 20.

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Alleging 'over-invoicing running into thousands of crores', advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGOs, informed a division bench, headed by acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar, that the cost of power equipment and fuel was being shown at 400% higher than the actual price. He also said that these firms were doing so to siphon off money to promoter companies registered in tax havens abroad.

However, on Wednesday, Justice C Hari Shankar recused himself from hearing the case as he has appeared for some of the firms named in the petition in the past.

The NGOs have alleged that the power firms belonging to the two groups were allegedly inflating the value of imports for their power plants to siphon money abroad and avail higher power rate compensation.

"Most of these over-invoicing instances have been reported from the power sector, the impact of which is felt by the millions of the electricity consumers in the form of higher tariff," the NGOs claimed in their PIL.

"The modus operandi is identical in all these cases. The coal or power equipment, even though (these are) shipped directly to India, but its invoicing is routed through a different company incorporated abroad which is directly owned and controlled by the promoters of the project in India," the PIL alleged.

The NGOs elaborated the modus operandi in their plea giving an example that suppose the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of power equipment is located in China, but it raises the invoice in the name of a company located in say UAE, and the UAE-based company then raises its own invoice by inflating the value on the Indian company.

"But, Chinese OEM ships the equipment directly to India," it claimed.

"Thus, it is clear that such companies have much to hide in the way they have indulged in huge over-invoicing of coal imported from Indonesia in order to siphon off money from India to cheat the consumers and the shareholders. ... The said case is a clear criminal offence and needs a thorough investigation by an SIT," the PIL alleged.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is currently investigating over a dozen firms, including firms of the Adani Group, Essar Group and Reliance ADAG Group, among others for alleged over valuation of Indonesian coal imports and power equipment imports between 2011 and 2015.

OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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