The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday searched West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak’s homes in connection with a case of alleged coal smuggling from Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in Asansol, reported PTI.

The central agency searched Ghatak’s homes in Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district, as also his residence in the Lake Gardens area of Kolkata, reported The Quint.

On September 2, the Trinamool Congress’ National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in connection with the case, according to PTI. This was the third time that he appeared before the agency.

The Enforcement Directorate is looking into the money laundering aspect of the case, while the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the criminal angle.

On August 29, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using central agencies and “ill-gotten money” to dislodge state governments run by other political parties.

Coal smuggling case

The Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that the case may involve transactions amounting to Rs 1,300 crore, the bulk of which went to several influential persons.

The CBI registered a first information report in November 2020 against prime accused Anup Majhi and Vinay Mishra, who was associated with the youth wing of Trinamool Congress, among others. Majhi is accused of paying bribes to influential people to run his operations involving illegal mining and transportation of coal, reported The Quint.

In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a chargesheet against 41 persons. It alleged that the accused persons “entered into a conspiracy and in pursuance of that, fraudulently misappropriated coal from the coal reserve of leasehold areas under the dominion of ECL [Eastern Coalfields Limited], and also from the coal stock parked in the Railway sidings for sale and supply.”

On July 11, the CBI arrested seven persons in connection with the case, including a serving and three retired general managers of state-run Eastern Coalfields Limited, reported The Hindu.