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India’s Bhatia Denies Conspiracy Charge in Indonesia Coal Sales

India’s Bhatia International Ltd. denied an allegation by the Central Bureau of Investigation that it conspired to defraud customers by selling low-quality Indonesian coal at inflated prices.

The authorities have no evidence to support the allegation as the coal has been burnt, S.S. Bhatia, vice-chairman of Bhatia Group, said in a phone interview from the central Indian city if Indore, where the company is based.

The CBI said it found “incriminating documents” suggesting a “criminal conspiracy” between the coal trading company and its units in Singapore and Indonesia, testing agencies and officials at two power plants run by state-run NTPC Ltd. (NTPC) The inflated price may have cost the plants 1.16 billion rupees ($18.8 million), the CBI said in a Jan. 4 statement.

“We followed every procedure of the tender and the coal quality was testified at various levels by renowned testing agencies,” Bhatia said. “We will fight this case with every document to prove our innocence in the court.”

The Singapore unit of a coal-trading company bought inferior quality coal from Indonesia and sold it to the plants as a higher-grade fuel, according to the CBI statement, which didn’t name the trader at the time.

“We have the evidence and we will produce it in the court,” CBI spokeswoman Kanchan Prasad said by phone.

One of the power plants is NTPC’s 1,050-megawatt Unchahar plant, near the north Indian town of Raebareli. The second is run by NTPC-SAIL Power Co., an equal joint venture with Steel Authority of India Ltd., in the eastern town of Bhilai, according to the statement.

Bhatia Group imports about 10 million metric tons of coal in a year and has sales of about 50 billion rupees ($811 million), said Bhatia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rajesh Kumar Singh in New Delhi at rsingh133@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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