CBI relaxed travel bar for diplomatic work, claims Sivasankaran

NEW DELHI: Businessman C Sivasankaran - who is facing a CBI probe into an alleged Rs 600 crore fraud on IDBI bank - has claimed that a senior officer of the agency met former Interpol chief Ronald K Noble at a five-star and at the CBI headquarters in Delhi to discuss his candidature for Interpol's executive committee.

Sivasankaran shared with TOI "details" of what transpired between the CBI officer and Noble. Though he denied having met any CBI officer at the hotel, as first reported by TOI on Monday, Sivasankaran couldn't explain how he was privy to information about meetings of a CBI officer. Sivasankaran - who calls himself 'ambassador at large of the Republic of Seychelles' - said the information he possessed was "a diplomatic privilege and hence he may not be able to share further details".

The CBI officer has been identified as joint director AK Sharma, whose name has reportedly been nominated for the post of delegate in Interpol Executive Committee, for which election is scheduled to be held in the third week of November.

Sivasankaran couldn't explain how he came to know of Sharma's candidature, a 'prolonged' meeting between Sharma and Noble, and what was discussed. Noble, when contacted, didn't deny meeting Sharma and Sivasankaran but insisted that many seeking Interpol postings contact him. "Since I left Interpol in 2014, a number of candidates for executive committee from around the world have sought my advice, including AK Sharma, whom I met in India," Noble told TOI. Sharma didn't respond to text messages, while CBI refused comment on the matter.

Siva's case was transferred by the CBI brass to Anti-Corruption-3 unit in Delhi from Bangalore in September despite opposition from the investigating officer and head of branch (HoB). Sharma was heading AC-3 unit till October 23, the day when government removed CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana, and began a CVC probe into the affairs of CBI.

In his statement, Sivasankaran also said CBI removed the lookout circular against him at airports. He said this was done after his deposition to "enable him to discharge his diplomatic work in Seychelles and other countries". He, however, failed to explain the nature of his diplomatic duties which made CBI dilute the circular. The first IO of the case had given a report that his diplomatic privilege couldn't be "vouched for" and that his presence was required in India till probe was over. Sivasankaran also denied having any shares in company named in CBI FIR in IDBI case.

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