Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested six people, including an income tax (I-T) commissioner (appeals) and Essar Group’s managing director Pradeep Mittal in an alleged bribery case.
I-T commissioner B.B. Rajendra Prasad, a 1992 IRS batch officer, was arrested from Visakhapatnam, while the others were held in Mumbai.
As per the CBI FIR , or First Information Report, Essar group’s Managing Director Pradeep Mittal, Essar’s Accounts Officer Vipin Bajpai, chartered accountant Shreyas Parikh, real estate agent Suresh Kumar Jain and Manish Jain are the others who have been arrested.
Two CBI officials, including an agency spokesperson, confirmed the arrests.
“The arrests have been made on the basis of a complaint that the official had demanded illegal gratification for favouring a private firm," CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur said. “These persons were arrested in a graft case to give a favourable order in a case pertaining to Balaji Trust in Mumbai where Essar Investments Ltd is a trustee," said a CBI official, on condition of anonymity.
The case pertains to a matter pending before the appeals department of Mumbai income tax, where it had passed an order favouring Balaji Trusts.
“For giving this favourable order, he ( BB Rajendra Prasad) allegedly demanded a bribe amount of Rs2 crore and wanted the money to be delivered to the relative of real estate trade agent( a private person) at Mumbai who in turn after collecting the money transferred it to said real estate trade agent in Visakhapatnam," said CBI in a statement.
“The Commissioner of income tax had visited Visakhapatnam on leave and allegedly demanded the real estate trade agent to deliver part of the money at his residence in Visakhapatnam," the statement added.
“These arrests were made after the investigative agency conducted searched at the Essar corporate office in Mumbai and other locations in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. During the raids a sum of Rs19.3 lakh was seized from the accused. The remaining Rs1.5 crore, which was earlier received by the IT officer as a bribe has also been recovered," said the CBI official.
The arrested were produced before a CBI special court in Visakhapatnam to seek custody on Wednesday.
In an email response, a Balaji Trust spokesperson said there was “a routine survey" of records by CBI at the offices of two of its executives in connection with some IT assessment orders.
“Legal submissions were made to the relevant authorities on merits through a reputed accounting firm based on which the orders were passed in a routine manner. We categorically deny all allegations regarding any misconduct by our executives. Our executives are innocent and the company stands by them. We are confident that upon investigations, the CBI will come to the same conclusion."
The email said Balaji Trust is fully cooperating with the investigation.