CBI to miss deadline in Asthana case because it is looking for information from UAE
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation has approached the
UAE authorities to verify the claims of Hyderabad-based businessman
Sathish Sana Babu that he paid Rs 3 crore bribe to former CBI
special director Rakesh Asthana through Dubai-based
investment banker Manoj Prasad and his brother Somesh Prasad. As a
result, now the agency won’t be able to complete its probe against
the Gujarat cadre IPS officer within 10 weeks, as directed by the
Delhi High Court.
CBI sources, requesting anonymity, confirmed that a letter rogatory (a judicial request seeking information from a country) has been sent to the UAE as the alleged crime originated in Dubai.
They added that since the meeting between Sana and Prasad brothers took place in Dubai, and he was allegedly shown the WhatsApp picture of Asthana there, these facts need to be verified at UAE’s end. The LR reply might take some time hence CBI will seek more time from the high court.
The HC deadline for finishing the probe is set to end on March 25.
In the FIR registered by then CBI director Alok Verma on October 15 last year, Sana had claimed that Manoj Prasad had told him about his “good connections” in the CBI and that his brother Somesh would help him get out of the case. Sana had further claimed when he met Somesh in Dubai, he was told that Asthana will surely do the work as he (Somesh) managed the officer’s investments in Dubai and London for the past many years.
The businessman had also claimed that he saw Asthana’s photo on Somesh’s WhatsApp, and paid first instalment of Rs 1 crore to Manoj in Dubai, and later Rs 1.95 crore to Manoj’s contact Sunil Mittal on December 12, 2017, in Press Club of India’s parking area at Raisina Road in Delhi. He also alleged that he paid Rs 25 lakh on October 10, 2018 and 25,000 dirhams (around Rs 5 lakh) and 30,000 dirhams (around Rs 6 lakh) to Manoj in Dubai around the same time. While he was in Dubai in December 2017, he claims, Somesh also made him listen to conversations of two CBI officers on the phone, and one of the voices was that of Asthana.
Rakesh Asthana has denied all the allegations saying the case was fabricated against him at the behest of Verma and Sana was himself a suspect in Moin Qureshi case, which the Gujarat cadre officer was investigating.
Sources said they have already examined Sana several times, apart from Manoj Prasad and few others linked to the case.
Several agency officials have pointed out that the contents of the FIR appear fishy, and there is no trail of bribe money, as claimed by Sana yet.
The FIR against Asthana brought out his differences with Verma out in the open last year following which the Supreme Court ordered a CVC probe against the then CBI chief and he was ultimately removed from the post.
Asthana is currently serving as director general, bureau of civil aviation security (BCAS).