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CBI special director Rakesh Asthana. Photo: PTI
CBI special director Rakesh Asthana. Photo: PTI

ED likely to take over Rakesh Asthana money trail probe

The usual course of action when a money trail is established, is that the ED takes over the probe.

New Delhi: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case of criminal conspiracy and corruption against its second top ranking official, special director Rakesh Asthana, persons familiar with the development confirmed that trouble was going to mount for Asthana, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) likely to take over the money-trail probe.

“The usual course of action when a money trail is established, is that the ED takes over the probe. In this case too, the ED is likely to probe the money trail against Rakesh Asthana, more so because it is unprecedented for the second-in-command of the CBI to be under the scanner," said a senior central government official, seeking anonymity.

However, while Rakesh Asthana, in a letter to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has cried foul over the case, claiming that he was being falsely framed by director Alok Verma, officials also added that there was no set procedure to deal with such a situation.

“There are several grey areas in dealing with an officer in a case like this. He maybe asked to go on leave pending an inquiry or maybe suspended altogether. However, that call has to be taken by the highest level of the government and not from within the CBI," the above official added.

Former officials who have been associated with the CBI also added that not only was the tussle between the director and the special director sullying the name of India’s top investigating agency, but the accused official needed to be removed with immediate effect, in order to set an example.

“It is no secret that Asthana enjoys external support because of which he is able to periodically challenge the director. This is doing nothing but destroying the reputation of the CBI. The government should immediately remove Asthana and transfer him to an innocuous post until the probe is complete," said a former official, who was closely associated with the CBI.

In its FIR against Asthana, based on a complaint by Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana claiming that Asthana had received a Rs3 crore bribe from him, the agency has accused Asthana of criminal conspiracy and corruption.

Asthana is also being probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CBI, headed by Asthana, in the Moin Qureshi case.

The CBI, in a statement, has said that “Rakesh Asthana… received illegal gratification through private persosns Manoj and Somesh Prasad for giving relief in the case. Satish Sana is one of the witnesses in a case pertaining to Moin Qureshi. The case against the public servants (Asthana and others) relates to transactions beginning in December 2017."

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