Was in UK to attend Mallya trial when bribe was paid: Asthana
Calls CBI’s FIR Against Him ‘Fabricated’
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