4 more held by CBI in bribery case against retired railways engineer

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New Delhi, Jul 6 (PTI) The CBI has arrested four more persons in connection with a Rs 5.89-crore bribery case against a retired railways engineer and unearthed assets worth over Rs 25 crore far, officials said on Tuesday.

AK Kathpal, a 1984-batch Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME) officer, was arrested on Monday while allegedly receiving Rs 50 lakh of the Rs 5.89 crore bribe money collected by him and kept in the custody of a director of a Chennai-based company.

During searches, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has recovered additional fixed deposit documents worth Rs 4.28 crore and details of bank accounts, which are under scrutiny, the officials said.

Besides the Rs 5.89 crore bribe money kept in the custody of Hamsa Venugopalan, the director of Chennai-based Universal Engineers Private Limited, the CBI has recovered Rs 2.75 crore in cash from the premises of Kathpal's brother and 23 kg of gold worth Rs 12 crore, taking the total value of the assets unearthed in the case so far to Rs 24.92 crore, they added.

The agency has arrested Venugopalan, her working partner Om Prakash, Kathpal's brother Sanjay and Khetmal Jain of the Salem Steel Trading Company in Chennai.

Om Prakash and Jain were allegedly involved in transferring the cash kept with Venugopalan to Kathpal in Delhi, the officials said.

'Apart from the recoveries of huge cash and gold bars (cash of Rs 2.75 crore approx. and gold bars of 23 kg approx.) made yesterday, other investments such as FDRs worth Rs 4.28 crore (approx.) related to the public servant and his family members, property documents and the keys of two bank lockers have also been recovered during searches. The scrutiny of the bank accounts and other documents is in progress,' CBI Spokesperson RC Joshi said in a statement.

He said all the arrested accused were produced before the competent courts at Delhi and Chennai on Tuesday.

While he was posted at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai's Perambur, Kathpal allegedly indulged in large-scale corruption in the last three years of his service, especially during the last six months, the officials said.

The bribe money was kept in the custody of Venugopalan who, with the help of Om Prakash and Jain, was transferring money to Kathpal in Delhi in installments after the engineer's retirement on March 31, they added.

The first installment of Rs 50 lakh was allegedly received by Kathpal's brother Sanjay in Delhi.

It was while receiving the second installment of Rs 50 lakh that Kathpal was nabbed by the central agency, which had deployed its team following an input.

'It was further alleged that the accused, during the period from February 2019 to March 31, 2021 (the date of his retirement), had collected bribes from the director of a private firm and others, and used the services of the said person (the director of the private firm) as a conduit for collecting bribes on his behalf and also as a custodian for keeping the alleged illegal gratification of Rs 5.89 crore (approx.) received on his behalf,' Joshi said. PTI ABS RC

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