Was in UK to at­tend Mallya trial when bribe was paid: Asthana

Calls CBI’s FIR Against Him ‘Fab­ri­cated’

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION - Neeraj.Chauhan @times­group.com

New Delhi: CBI spe­cial di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana, booked for cor­rup­tion by his boss Alok Verma based on a com­plaint from busi­ness­man Sathish Babu Sana, has claimed in his de­fence that he was in Lon­don to at­tend Vi­jay Mallya’s ex­tra­di­tion trial at the time when Sana claims to have ne­go­ti­ated bribes with him.

Asthana has said he was in Lon­don be­tween De­cem­ber 2 and 14, 2017, which was when Sana claims al­leged mid­dle­men broth­ers Manoj and Somesh Prasad ne­go­ti­ated with the CBI of­fi­cer to set­tle the case against him and a hefty bribe was paid. Asthana has said he was not in of­fice even af­ter re­turn­ing, when Sana has claimed a cru­cial meet­ing be­tween the of­fi­cer and Somesh took place in the CBI of­fice. The CBI of­fi­cer has also in­formed the CVC that his phone call logs and tower po­si­tion could be checked to ver­ify his lo­ca­tion. The CBI num­ber 2 as well as Verma have been sent on leave on the recom­men- da­tion of the cen­tral vig­i­lance com­mis­sion. Asthana is learnt to have shared his com­plete travel de­tails with the CVC to seek dis­missal of al­le­ga­tions against him in the FIR, which he has termed as “fab­ri­cated”, ac­cord­ing to per­sons fa­mil­iar with the in­quiry.

In the FIR, reg­is­tered on Oc­to­ber 15, 2018, Sana has al­leged that in De­cem­ber 2017, Manoj Prasad in­formed him about his con­nec­tions in CBI fol­low­ing which the mid­dle­man’s brother Somesh called a CBI of­fi­cer (re­fer­ring to Asthana) over phone in his pres­ence. The CBI of­fi­cer, Sana claims, as­sured him that his prob­lem would be solved. This con­ver­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to FIR, hap­pened af­ter De­cem­ber 2, 2017.

In­ter­est­ingly, Asthana had in in a let­ter to the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary ac­cused CBI di­rec­tor and his ri­val, Alok Verma , of hav­ing taken bribes from Sana, a Hy­der­abad-based busi­ness­man. The pro­moter of Play­boy Club in Hy­der­abad claims he then paid Rs 1crore to Manoj in Dubai and Rs 1.95 crore to one Su­nil Mit­tal on De­cem­ber13, 2017 in the park­ing of Press Club of In­dia in Delhi. The busi­ness­man, who ac­cord­ing to Asthana is him­self a sus­pect in Moin Qureshi case, fur­ther al­leged that af­ter the pay­ment ma­te­ri­alised, Somesh trav­elled to In­dia on De­cem­ber 14.

Ac­cord­ing to Sana, in next one or two days (maybe 15th or 16th De­cem­ber), Somesh called him to say he would call from the CBI of­fi­cer’s room. Sana says “Somesh in­formed me that Ihad lis­tened to the voice of Shri Rakesh Asthana”. This part has been cited as “cru­cial ev­i­dence” by Alok Verma’s team against Asthana. Asthana con­veyed to CVC that the “fab­ri­cated” FIR against him was planned af­ter he ex­posed CBI di­rec­tor’s cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties be­fore the cab­i­net sec­re­tary­this year.

Rakesh Asthana said he was in Lon­don be­tween De­cem­ber 2 and 14, 2017, which was when the com­plainant, Sathish Babu Sana, claimed the bribe was given

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