New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday booked its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana with accepting a bribe to settle a case of meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Qureshi is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption. The internal conflict between CBI Alok Verma and his number 2 Rakesh Asthana escalated when the latter wrote to the government and accused the organisation of lodging a “false FIR” against him.
Though the CBI was tight-lipped over whether it has lodged an FIR naming its Number 2 officer after the agency’s Director Alok Verma, multiple sources within the agency and in the government did not rule out the possibility. Both Verma and Asthana could not be reached for comment.
Asthana’s name emerged when Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana, who is being investigated in a case against Qureshi, told the investigation agency that he paid Rs 2 crore as a bribe to Asthana over a period of 10-month to ensure that his name doesn’t come up in the case. The case was being examined by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Asthana.
Sources said the CBI lodged the FIR earlier this week after the arrest of a middleman Manoj Kumar, who has given a confessional statement before a magistrate confirming the payment of Rs 2 crore to Asthana. Manoj has reportedly admitted that he had paid the bribe on behalf of Qureshi. Qureshi was arrested by the ED in August last year under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Not just Asthana, the CBI also named Samant Kumar Goel, Special Director of India’s external intelligence agency RAW. He has not been named as an accused as of now.
Terming the FIR as “false”, Asthana denied the claims and alleged that Satish Sana’s complaint was a conspiracy between him and certain officers of the CBI and the ED (Enforcement Directorate). He also alleged corrupt practices by the CBI chief and his Chief Vigilance Officer Arun Sharma. He also added that Sana had paid Rs 2 crore to the CHI chief for hurrying the investigation in Moin Qureshi’s case.
Earlier, Asthana had filed a complaint against the CBI Director accusing him of interfering in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation corruption case involving family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad. The agency had, however, denied the charges and asserted that Asthana himself was under probe in half-a-dozen cases.