Interim CBI Director M Nageswara Rao on Tuesday issued a statement defending financial transactions between his wife and a private firm following allegations of unaccounted money. Rao took charge as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation last week after the Centre sent CBI Director Alok Verma and his second-in-command Rakesh Asthana on leave.
On Monday, The Indian Express had reported that records maintained by the Registrar of Companies showed several financial transactions between Rao’s wife Mannem Sandhya and a trading company in Kolkata, Angela Mercantile Private Limited between 2011 and 2014. The report said that Sandhya had borrowed Rs 25 lakh from the company in the financial year ending March 2011. Between 2012 and 2014, she gave loans worth Rs 1.14 crore to the company in three tranches.
“She [Sandhya] is the wife of our dear family friend [Rao],” Angela Mercantile’s Director Praween Agarwal told the daily. “I know him [Rao] for a long time, when he was an officer in Odisha. They are like our family. What is wrong if you give loans or accept some investment from a person you know as your family friend?”
The Central Bureau of Investigation had declined to respond to The Indian Express. But on Tuesday, in his personal capacity, Rao put out a statement denying all the reports. Acknowledging that Agarwal was a “long-time family friend”, Rao said his wife took a loan of Rs 25 lakh from Angela Mercantile on September 10, 2010.
With this money, Sandhya and her cousin jointly purchased a property in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said. It was purchased jointly with her cousin, orthopaedic surgeon K Ratna Babu, and not her brother Ch Ratna Babu, who lives in the United States of America, Rao stressed.
Sandhya sold her inherited agricultural land of 11.17 acres for a sum of Rs 58.62 lakh in two batches in 2011, he said. “On 17-9-2011, my wife sold 5.12 acres of her inherited agricultural property for an amount of Rs 30.72 lakh,” Rao said. “Again, on 19-10-2011, she sold 6.05 acres of her inherited agricultural property for an amount of Rs 27.90 lakh.”
“Thus she received a total amount of Rs 58.62 lakh as sale proceeds of 11-17 [sic] acres of her inherited agricultural property during 2011,” the interim CBI director said. “This, along with Rs 1.38 lakh from personal savings, i.e. a total of Rs 60 lakhs was sent to Angela Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Kolkata, in 2011, who after deducting the loan amount, retained the balance Rs 35 lakhs as investment.”
In July 2014, Angela Mercantile returned to her Rs 41.33 lakh, which included accrued interest amount of Rs 6.33 lakh, he added. “Due intimations were given to competent authorities immediately,” he said. “The question of any unaccounted money does not arise at all...I deny all other reports as they are incorrect and untrue.”