The Central Bureau of Investigation has named its second-in-command Rakesh Asthana in a First Information Report on a bribery case, The Hindu reported on Sunday. Asthana, who is the agency’s special director, is accused of accepting a Rs 2-crore bribe in a case from businessman Moin Qureshi, who is named in multiple money laundering and corruption cases.
The agency has reportedly submitted telephone intercepts, WhatsApp messages, a money trail and a statement of a suspected middleman.
The complaint was filed on October 15, according to a CBI statement accessed by ANI.
The complaint also names Samant Kumar Goel, the special director of external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, but not as an accused, The Indian Express reported.
Last month, the investigating agency said a complaint that Asthana filed against its Director Alok Verma was malicious and frivolous. The statement was issued after some media reports claimed that Asthana had approached the Central Vigilance Commission, accusing Verma of interfering in his team’s investigations. The CBI’s chief vigilance officer told the Central Vigilance Commission that the complaint was Asthana’s attempt to intimidate officers investigating his role in some cases.
Asthana’s appointment to the CBI in October 2017 invited criticism from several quarters. A non-governmental organisation called Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court, calling the appointment illegal and claimed that it violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity”.
The organisation pointed out that Asthana’s name had surfaced in a diary obtained by the CBI from the premises of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech in August 2017. The diary suggested that the CBI officer had accepted bribes from the company, the petitioners alleged. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the plea.