CBI director Ranjit Sinha has written a letter to CBDT Chairman R K Tewari asking him to hand over evidence against all former CBI officials alleged to have links with meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi, who is being probed for suspected tax evasion.
A detailed report has also been prepared by the Finance Ministry on the alleged links of Qureshi with ministers and officials in the outgoing UPA-II regime.
Sinha told The Indian Express that he wanted to determine if cases being probed by the CBI had been influenced by Qureshi.
“It is not a crime for people to be talking to one another. But if there is incriminating evidence with tax authorities which shows that he was influencing CBI cases, then we need to take corrective measures,” the CBI chief said.
On May 15, The Indian Express had reported that Income Tax investigators had found Blackberry Messenger (BBM) exchanges between Qureshi and former CBI director A P Singh, raising questions of propriety and possible conflict of interest. Singh was CBI chief from 2010 to 2012.
The messages, accessed by The Indian Express, indicate Singh and Qureshi knew each other well and that Singh allowed Qureshi to seek “help”, including on behalf of people being probed by the CBI. The messages also show Qureshi apparently sought Singh’s help in connection with a business project linked to a top industrialist, for getting security clearance from the Intelligence Bureau director, and to reach out to union minister Kamal Nath for a Golf Club membership.
Singh, who is currently Member, UPSC, has maintained that Qureshi is his “personal friend” and that he is not aware about the meat exporter’s tax frauds. Prime minister-designate Narendra Modi had promised action in the case during his campaign.
Sinha said he had sent his letter to the CBDT chief four days ago and was yet to receive a reply. “I have read media reports which name former CBI officials in connnection with the case. So I have sent copies of the newspaper reports to the department asking them if such incriminating material indeed exists and that it should be shared with us.”
Sinha added that “if the newspaper reports are true, then it effects the reputation of an organisation like the CBI”.
In his letter, Sinha did not name any former CBI official but sought action in accordance with the law, based on available evidence. The CBDT has administrative control over the Income Tax Department.
A Doon school alumnus, 57-year-old Qureshi has been under IT Department lens for several months now for alleged tax evasion, by reportedly “under-reporting” the turnover of his companies. The department claims to have transcripts of 500 hours of phone conversations of Qureshi with several top bureaucrats and politicians.
IT authorities are also probing whether Qureshi had any links to a heavy cash transaction between Dubai and London.
Following searches on various premises linked to Qureshi, the IT Department had frozen Rs 20 crore cash and jewellery and deposits in bank accounts. A final IT assessment report is said to include a mention of his bungalow in South Delhi.
There are reports that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) may also be roped in to probe Qureshi’s alleged hawala links.
Qureshi had to resign as president of the Old Boys’ Society of Doon School recently after the controversy broke out.
with bureau inputs