The Enforcement Directorate has ruled out Rakesh Asthana’s role in a Rs 5,000-crore fraud.
An apparent power tussle between the chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and his deputy has led to allegations and complaints. While CBI special director Rakesh Asthana alleges that even after the probe agency investigating a Rs 5,000-crore fraud ruled out his role, his own organisation isn’t giving him a clean chit.
When NDTV asked his boss about the charge, he refused to comment.
“It’s a complicated case and I can’t comment on it offhand,” CBI director Alok Verma said.
Mr Verma also refused to elaborate on his claim that six cases are being investigated against his deputy.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have been investigating the Sterling Biotech fraud in which two Gujarat-based businessmen, the Sandesara brothers had, on the basis of false and fabricated documents, obtained credit facilities of more than Rs 5,000 crore from banks, which subsequently turned into bad loans or NPA.
During its investigation, the Enforcement Directorate recovered documents and diaries that contained details of payments made by Sterling Biotech to several people and firms between January and June 2011.
After they came across the initials “RA” in the seized documents, it was assumed that they stood for Rakesh Asthana, who happens to be a Gujarat cadre IPS officer. However, during further probe, the ED determined that RA stood for ‘running account’ of another company and clarified that Mr Asthana had role in Sandesara scam.
“We are only investigating the money trail and not his role,” a senior ED official told NDTV.
Interestingly, Mr Asthana is not named in the FIR registered by the CBI as well.
Alok Verma is set to retire in February. The allegations and pending probe could ruin Mr Asthana’s chances of being the CBI’s top boss.
The infighting escalated when Mr Asthana complained to Central Vigilance Commission or CVC alleging that the CBI director had stopped raids on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav in Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation or IRCTC scam.
In its counter, the CBI pointed out to the CVC that the issue relating to the IRCTC case was brought before the Supreme Court on twice, but it was dismissed.
In a rather unusual statement released on Friday, the CBI also trashed Mr Asthana’s allegation as “malicious and frivolous” and called it an “attempt to intimidate agency officers probing the former’s role in six cases”.