A member of the NTPC board of directors, who was booked by the CBI on Thursday for alleged corruption, was under surveillance for days along with two other private individuals named in the FIR. It was through intercepted conversations that the CBI learnt that Kulamani Biswal, Director (Finance) with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), was seeking a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from a contractor to fund his and his family’s trip abroad.
Based on these intercepts, the CBI registered an FIR on Thursday and proceeded to lay a trap to arrest the accused while the bribe would be handed over to Biswal on Friday at his residence in the Asian Games Village. The agency, however, failed to trap the senior PSU official, as the exchange of bribe did not take place. The bribe giver came out of his house without delivering the money only to be arrested by the agency.
CBI sources, however, said that the agency had enough evidence to prosecute Biswal. This included phone intercepts where the demand for bribe was being made. The agency is likely to obtain voice samples of the accused to match with the intercepts.
The bribe giver, identified as Prabhat Kumar, is being questioned by CBI. Sources said further investigation would be done based on his revelations. They added that investigations could include scrutiny of the contractor’s dealings with the NTPC and a probe into whether favours were granted by Biswal to the contractor.
The agency registered the FIR against Biswal, BGR Mining and Infra Private Limited director Rohit Reddy Bathina and his associate Prabhat Kumar. The CBI alleged that Kumar, a confidant of Bathina, was assigned to deliver Rs 5 lakh to facilitate the foreign travel of Biswal and his family.
The FIR alleged that Biswal demanded that Bathina arrange US dollars of about Rs 5 lakh. He was scheduled to leave for his overseas trip on Friday. Bathina offered to deliver the amount in Delhi or Bhubaneshwar, it alleged.
Biswal then asked Bathina to give him the cash in Indian currency in Delhi, which he would convert to dollars, the agency alleged, adding that Bathina told him that the amount would be delivered by Kumar in Delhi.
“…Bathina arranged for the delivery of Rs 5 lakh in cash through hawala channels to Prabhat Kumar for further delivery to Kulamani Biswal in Delhi,” it alleged. “Kulamani Biswal, being a public servant, has attempted to obtain for himself valuable things without any consideration from the party, namely M/S BGR Mining & Infra Pvt Ltd. SH. Rohit Reddy Bathina and Sh Prabhat Kumar have conspired and abetted the aforesaid act of Sh Kulmani Biswal…” the CBI said.