In an alleged scam of Rs 38 crore, leading commercial-vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland has come under investigation by central agency ED for sale of trucks that violated anti-pollution norms mandated by the Supreme Court. The agency has also attached assets worth Rs 22 belonging to the buyers — a former MLA of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, JC Prabhakar Reddy, and his family members and associates — who have already been questioned over the past few months.
The main charge is that even after the sale/registration of vehicles that did not meet the then-latest BS-4 norms was banned from April 1, 2017, two companies — Diwakar Road Lines and Jatadhara Industries — bought some BS-3 trucks from Ashok Leyland as scrap.
Those firms then faked the dates on the invoices to get these registered in Nagaland, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in 2018, says the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the case under the anti-money laundering law.
The ED says these firms are controlled by JC Prabhakar Reddy, former MLA; his close associate Gopal Reddy, a civil contractor from Ananthapur district in Andhra Pradesh; and their family members.
“Further investigation is in progress including the role of M/s Ashok Leyland in the entire scam,” te agency has said.
The company has not yet reacted.
The Supreme Court had in March 2017 ordered that vehicles not compliant with BS-4 norms cannot be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer from April 1, 2017. Registering authorities were also prohibited from passing such vehicles. India has since moved on to even stricter, BS-6 norms.
“We have gathered evidences in the form of fabricated invoices from [registration] authorities in Nagaland and original invoices issued by Ashok Leyland as ‘scrap’ for the same vehicles, and established the crime,” said an ED release.
“Crime proceeds generated by owning, plying, and/or selling these vehicles have been quantified as Rs 38.36 crore,” it said.
The assets attached include Rs 6.31 crore in bank balance, cash and jewellery, and 68 immovable properties valued at Rs 15.79 crore belonging to JC Prabhakar Reddy, his family members, companies controlled by him, and C Gopal Reddy and his family members, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).