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CBI books second-biggest electoral bond buyer Megha Engineering and 8 steel ministry officials in Rs 315 cr case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a case against Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd (MEIL), a prominent infrastructure firm based in Hyderabad. The investigation is centered around alleged bribery payments made to officials of NMDC Limited and MECON Limited, both entities under the steel ministry, regarding payments related to invoices.

MEIL recently gained attention due to its significant contributions to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) through Electoral Bonds. According to data released by the State Bank of India, MEIL donated a substantial amount of Rs 584 crore to the BJP between April 2019 and October 2023. In total, the company purchased Electoral Bonds worth Rs 966 crore (excluding bonds bought by its subsidiaries) from April 2019 to February 2024.

CBI named eight officials from NISP and NMDC, as well as two officials from MECON in connection with alleged bribery. The FIR alleges that around Rs 78 lakh in bribes were given to clear bills totaling Rs 174 crore for works related to the Jagdalpur integrated steel plant.

MEIL also made significant donations to various political parties, including Rs 195 crore to BRS, Rs 85 crore to DMK, and Rs 37 crore to YSRCP. TDP received about Rs 25 crore, while Congress got Rs 17 crore. Smaller sums ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore were given to JD-S, Jana Sena Party, and JD-U.

The FIR, which was disclosed on Saturday, reveals that the CBI initiated a preliminary enquiry on August 10, 2023, regarding the purported bribery in a project worth Rs 315 crore. This project involved the construction of intake well, pump house, and cross-country pipeline at the integrated steel plant in Jagdalpur, which was contracted to the company.

Following the findings of the preliminary enquiry, a recommendation was made on March 18 to initiate a formal case regarding the alleged bribery. This recommendation led to the filing of the case on March 31. The CBI has named eight officials from NISP and NMDC Ltd in the case. These include retired executive director Prashant Dash, director (production) DK Mohanty, DGM PK Bhuyan, DM Naresh Babu, senior manager Subro Banerjee, retired CGM (finance) L Krishna Mohan, GM (finance) K Rajshekhar, and manager (finance) Somnath Ghosh, who are alleged to have received a bribe amounting to Rs 73.85 lakh.

The agency also identified two officials from MECON Ltd – AGM (contracts) Sanjeev Sahay and DGM (contracts) K Illavarsu – who allegedly received payments totaling Rs 5.01 lakh in connection with the payment of Rs 174.41 crore by NMDC Ltd to MEIL for 73 invoices. Subhash Chandra Sangras, general manager of MEIL, and Megha Engineering, along with others, were named as accused in the case.

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