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Alok Verma helped Nirav Modi case cover-up, Mallya flight?

Author: Neeraj Chauhan and Bharti Jain
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 12, 2019
URL:      https://m.timesofindia.com/india/alok-verma-helped-nirav-modi-case-cover-up-mallya-flight/amp_articleshow/67496133.cms?__twitter_impression=true


- Alok Verma is accused of "covering up" the leak of certain internal emails of CBI in the Nirav Modi case instead of finding the culprit(s)

- Another serious allegation against Verma relates to dilution of Vijay Mallya's look out circular, issued in October 2015

Former Central Bureau of Investigation director Alok Verma's troubles are far from over as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has initiated an inquiry against him over six more allegations, including a cover-up in the leak of internal emails on PNB scam accused Nirav Modi and dilution of look out circulars against Vijay Mallya and former Aircel promoter C Sivasankaran.

The CVC has informed the government about the fresh allegations, for which complaints were received by the anti-corruption watchdog after its enquiry report on Verma was filed before the Supreme Court on November 12 last year. The report's conclusion that Verma needed to be probed was based on its examination of 10 allegations levelled by his former number two, special director Rakesh Asthana.

A CVC source said that the CBI has been asked, through a letter on December 26, to provide all documents and files related to these cases so that the inquiry could be taken to its logical conclusion. The agency, in turn, produced all Mallya case documents on Wednesday, while others are pending. Nirav Modi and Mallya are currently absconding.

Verma is accused of "covering up" the leak of certain internal emails of CBI in the Nirav Modi case instead of finding the culprit(s), when the investigation into one of the biggest bank fraud cases was at its peak. The agency had, in June 2018, locked the room of then joint director Rajiv Singh (who was supervising the Nirav Modi probe) and had even called Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the ministry of information technology to retrieve data. However, the reason for the exercise was never explained.

The other major allegation is of diluting the LoC against Sivasankaran, an accused in the Rs 600 crore IDBI Bank loan fraud, allowing him to leave India. TOI had first reported the case on October 21. Not only did the CBI dilute LoC provisions for Sivasankaran in September but the case was transferred from Bank Securities and Fraud Cell (BS&FC), Bengaluru, to the anti-corruption-3 unit in Delhi to facilitate this change.

Another serious allegation against Verma relates to dilution of Mallya's LoC, issued in October 2015. Mallya had been booked in the Rs 900 crore IDBI Bank fraud, in which a UK court recently ordered his extradition. Within a month of issuance of the LoC, CBI joint director A K Sharma, seen to be close to Verma, wrote to immigration authorities seeking dilution to "inform only" instead of "detain". This helped Mallya flee the country.

Three other allegations questioning Verma's integrity were levelled by additional SP Sudhanshu Khare, posted at the CBI's Lucknow branch. He alleged that Verma refused to take up the probe into the suicide of Uttar Pradesh ATS additional SP Rajesh Sahni, who was found dead with a bullet wound in office. Khare said Verma did so "to save" some UP police officers. The Yogi Adityanath government had recommended a CBI enquiry but the agency never took up the case.

Khare then accused Verma of protecting accused persons from prosecution in a case related to the National Rural Health Mission scam. There is also an allegation that accused persons Ranjit Singh and Abhishek Singh were shielded in a bank fraud with SBI in Lucknow.

Ironically, Khare is the same officer who had recommended departmental action against then joint director Rajiv Singh. Instead of taking action against Singh, Verma had ordered a preliminary enquiry against Khare.

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