April 22, 2015 2:19:47 am
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka Lokayukta police that is supplementing CBI investigations into illegal exports of iron ore from Karnataka has arrested younger brother of G M Siddeswara, Minister of State for heavy industries in the NDA government, for alleged illegal export of 12,500 metric tonne of iron ore through a family firm.
The alleged illegal exports were carried out by Gem Laboratories Pvt Ltd between 2009 and 2010 from a small port called Belekeri in coastal Karnataka — a hub of illegal exports of iron ore stolen from mines and forests in Bellary region during the 2009-11 period.
The Lokayukta police Saturday arrested G M Lingaraju, the minister’s brother and managing director of Gem Laboratories, after he failed to reveal the source of 12,500 metric tonne of iron ore that was exported in six parcels by his firm from Belekeri between 2009-10 as revealed by port data obtained by the Lokayukta. Gem Laboratories exported a total of nearly 1 lakh MT of iron ore through Belekeri during the 2009-10 period.
Union minister Siddeswara, who is BJP MP from Davangere in central Karnataka, was indirectly associated with Gem Laboratories through his wife G S Gayathri, who held a 19.66 per cent stake in the firm and was one of its three directors till October 2013 as per financial statements given to the registrar of companies.
Since his brother’s arrest, Siddeswara has distanced himself from Gem Laboratories, which had his wife and two brothers as its directors for nearly two decades. “I have no links to my brother’s businesses,” he has stated.
The SIT is probing illegal iron ore exports less than 50,000 MT to supplement earlier CBI probes into the illegal export of iron ore from Karnataka between 2008 and 2011. Siddeswara’s brother is the seventh person to be arrested by the SIT. Earlier this month, former BJP minister Anand Singh, a mining businessman, was held by the SIT for illegal sale of 17,086 metric tonnes of iron ore to a firm Muneer Enterprises.
A CBI probe into illegal mining in Karnataka conducted on Supreme Court directions had found that a mining mafia allegedly run by former BJP minister G Janardhan Reddy and his associates excavated iron ore illegally from Bellary and surrounding areas and sold it to traders who transported it to Belekeri port and exported it.
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