The allegations revolve around Asthana receiving bribe from an accused probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
New Delhi: The ongoing tussle between CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana has escalated further, with the Central investigating agency filing a corruption case against its second-in-command.
Mr Asthana, who is named as the prime accused in an FIR that was filed on October 15, is alleged to have received kickbacks, amounting to Rs 2 crore, from Kanpur-based meat exporter Moin Qureshi to settle a money laundering case against him.
The CBI registered the case — FIR RC 13(A) of 2018 — against Mr Asthana on October 15 on the basis of a complaint from Satish Sana, facing probe in the 2017 case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, alleging the officer had allegedly helped him to get a clean chit.
Mr Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer from Gujarat-cadre, is also the front-runner for the post of CBI director. He is heading the special investigating team handling crucial cases such as AgustaWestland copter scam and loan fraud by business tycoon Vijay Mallya. The team is also probing the Moin Qureshi case.
The FIR also mentions Samant Kumar Goel, a special director at Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as aiding the illegal deal between Mr Asthana and Mr Qureshi.
Mr Asthana, it is alleged, received bribes through a middleman named Manoj Prasad, who was arrested by the CBI’s anti-corruption unit on October 16, a day after the FIR was filed. It is alleged by Mr Sana that Mr Prasad and his brother Somesh had taken money to arrange clean chit to him.
Mr Sana’s statement was recorded earlier this month in which he named investigating officer Devinder Singh and two individuals — Someshwar Prasad and Manoj Prasad — believed to be middlemen. In his statement, Mr Sana claimed that he was asked to pay `5 crore to settle his case pertaining to his links with Mr Qureshi, who is already being probed by the Central agencies.
According to the FIR, the bribe was demanded through a conduit who claimed that the money was meant for the senior CBI officer. He also showed his Whatsapp exchange with Mr Asthana to prove his claim.
In his complaint, Mr Sana said that he saw the DP of the said officer and confirmed it to be Mr Asthana following an Internet search. The FIR said that the first instalment of `1.95 crore was made in December 2017 in the parking lot of Press Club of India to a conduit, Sunil Mittal.
He claimed that the CBI continued to send him notice despite the payment and was eventually stopped from going to Paris as a look out notice was issued against him.
However, Mr Asthana in an exhaustive letter to the Cabinet secretary on August 24 had given a list of 10 instances of the alleged corruption by Mr Verma in which it was alleged that Mr Sana paid the CBI chief `2 crore to get a clean chit in the case, sources said. This complaint was referred to the Central Vigilance Commission which is probing the matter, they said.
Mr Asthana again wrote to the Central Vigilance Commissioner on 19 October — four days after the FIR was registered — informing him that he wanted to arrest and interrogate Mr Sana, for which a proposal was sent to the director on September 20, 2018, they said.
The FIR said that he raised the issue with his conduits he was asked to pay the remaining amount of money. The businessman claimed he paid another Rs 25 lakh to a conduit in a Karol Bagh shop Diamond Polki earlier this month. Following this he lodged a complaint with the CBI which registered the FIR. Even before the FIR was filed there were reports about internal strife in the CBI between it’s top two officers.
However, Asthana in an exhaustive letter to the Cabinet Secretary on 24 August had given a list of ten instances of alleged corruption by Verma in which it was alleged that Sana paid the CBI chief Rs 2 crore to get a clean chit in the case, sources said. This complaint was referred to the Central Vigilance Commission which is probing the matter, they said. Asthana again wrote to the Central Vigilance Commissioner on 19 October — four days after the FIR was registered — informing him that he wanted to arrest and interrogate Sana, for which a proposal was sent to the Director on 20 September, 2018, they said.