CBI files case against own top official, Rakesh Asthana, in bribery case

The allegations revolve around Asthana receiving bribe from an accused probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the CBI has booked its second in command, Rakesh Asthana, on the allegations of receiving bribe from an accused probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi -- a charge levelled by Asthana on CBI Director Alok Verma in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary two months ago.

The CBI registered the case -- FIR RC 13(A) of 2018 -- against CBI Special Director 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 helped him get a clean chit.

The CBI has also arrested Manoj Prasad, believed to be a middleman, when he returned from Dubai on October 16. The agency has, however, maintained a silence on the issue.

It is alleged by Sana that Prasad and his brother Somesh had taken money to arrange clean chit for him.

Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Asthana is currently heading the Special Investigating Team handling crucial cases such as AgustaWestland chopper scam and loan fraud by business tycoon Vijay Mallya. The team is also probing the Moin Qureshi case.

Asthana in an exhaustive letter to the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 had given a list of 10 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, government sources said.

This complaint was referred to the Central Vigilance Commission which is probing the matter, they said. Asthana has again written to the Central Vigilance Commissioner on October 19 -- 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 September 20, 2018, they said.

In the letter, he has also referred to his communication to Cabinet Secretary on August 24 in which details of alleged irregularities against the Director were given. He said the Director allegedly held the file for nearly four days and marked to the Director of Prosecution (DoP) on September 24, 2018 who demanded all evidence available on record, the sources said.

It was the team under Asthana which had opened a lookout circular against Sana who attempted to flee the country but could not because of the preemptive action, they said.

Asthana has said that the file was again placed before the Director on October 3 with answers to the queries raised by the DoP but it has not been returned till date, the sources said.

Sana was questioned by the SIT on October 1, 2018, where he stated that he had met a politician, who after meeting Verma, had assured him that his name would be cleared from the case, they said citing submissions of Asthana.

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