No Evidence of Bribery, Yet Cases Naming CBI’s Verma Raise Doubts

During the hearing on Friday, 16 November, the Supreme Court observed that the CVC report on the bribery allegation against Alok Verma was “very uncomplimentary” on certain charges and said further probe was necessary. The SC ordered Verma to file his response to the CVC report by Monday, 19 November.

Top sources in the CVC have confirmed to The Quint that the CVC report specifies “no evidence was found” during the probe against Verma to prove allegations of bribery. The CVC report also said that the file noting made by Verma on some “specific cases” raise doubts over his conduct which needs further probe, according to the source. These “specific cases” are those mentioned by Special Director CBI Rakesh Asthana in his complaint to the CVC on 24 August 2018. 

The SC is likely to decide on the matter on 20 November after Verma’s reply to the CVC report is filed on Monday.

No Evidence of Bribery Against Verma

Asthana in his complaint to the CVC mentioned that Verma was paid a bribe of Rs 2 crores by Sathish Sana to protect himself from being questioned by CBI officials in the case against the meat exporter and hawala dealer Moin Qureshi.

Sana’s statement was recorded by the CVC officials in the presence of the former Supreme Court Justice AK Patnaik who was supervising the probe against Verma, sources said, adding that in his statement, Sana had denied paying a bribe of Rs 2 crores to Verma.

It was on the basis of Sana’s complaint that the CBI registered an FIR against Asthana under the Prevention of Corruption Act on 15 October 2018. His statement was recorded under Section 164 before the Magistrate in which he stated that he paid a bribe of Rs 2 crores to Asthana through middlemen, Manoj and Somesh Prasad.

Based on Asthana’s complaint, the CVC scanned through the files of these specific CBI cases while probing Verma’s case.

Moin Qureshi Case

In February 2017, a case was registered by the CBI under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Moin Qureshi, the former Director of CBI AP Singh and others. In this case, Sana was questioned by the CBI because he had made an investment of Rs 50 lakhs in Qureshi’s company Great Heights Infratech.

Asthana alleged in his complaint that the CBI Director interfered in the investigation against Sana. He said in the complaint, that on 20 February 2018, Sana was summoned by the Investigating Officer (IO) and that on the same day, Verma had called Asthana and instructed him not to investigate Sana.

But despite Verma’s order, Sana was questioned by the IO, as mentioned by Asthana in the complaint.

Asthana also mentioned in the complaint that:

“the said accused (Sana) has managed to influence Alok Verma, DCB to avoid any coercive action by the CBI.”

Land-For-Hotel Case Against Lalu Prasad Yadav

In 2006, the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav transferred two hotels under the IRCTC to a private hotel allegedly in violation of the tender norms. In July 2017, the CBI registered an FIR against Lalu and others.

Asthana alleged in his complaint that Verma managed to safeguard one of the most crucial conspirators by omitting his name in the FIR with the help of the Director of Prosecution.

Asthana also alleged that Verma did not cite any reason for removing the name of the above conspirator, although officers involved in the investigation mentioned in the files that there is enough evidence against the said Railway officer.

Bank Fraud Case Against Joint Director CBI’s Brother

In March 2016 a bank fraud case was registered against Sanjay Singh on the written complaint of Allahabad Bank in Ranchi. Sanjay is a brother of the then Joint Director Rajiv Singh.

During the searches at Sanjay’s residence, Rajiv made repeated calls to the Joint Director CBI of Patna, as mentioned in Asthana’s complaint.

Asthana alleged in the complaint to the CVC that Verma transferred the case from Economic Offence Wing of CBI in Ranchi to the Anti-Corruption-1 in Delhi, without giving any cogent reason. Rajiv Singh was given the additional charge of the Bank Securities & Fraud Cell Zone of CBI, so that he was in a position to monitor the developments and influence the investigation against his brother Sanjay.

Undue Interference in CBI Cases Against ED Officials

An FIR was registered against a senior ED officer from Lucknow and his associates on the allegation that he had demanded bribes for extending favours in a money laundering case. The CBI caught the ED officer red-handed, accepting a bribe of Rs 5 lakhs from the complainant.

However, under the pressure of CBI Director Verma, CBI officials didn’t seize relevant documents, mobile phones and laptops, Asthana alleged in the CVC complaint. Asthana also said that Verma passed on such orders to protect Rajeshwar Singh, the Joint Director of ED. 

Asthana also mentioned about some other relevant cases in which Verma tried to extend favours to the alleged accused of the case.

“...in the past few months, there have been concerted attempts by Verma and Rajeshwar Singh, JD ED and others to tarnish my image by leaking certain documents containing, unverified, unsubstantiated information as well as making malicious allegations against me,” said Asthana in the complaint.

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