THE CBI has arrested senior journalist and former CEO and Editor of Sahara Media group and Tehelka, Upendra Rai, for allegedly indulging in dubious financial deals on behalf of various shell companies and for obtaining an airport pass that he was not authorised to get.
According to the CBI, Rai’s bank accounts saw transactions of over Rs 100 crore in 2017-18. Some of these transactions, the CBI said, indicate “pumping of tainted/ ill-gotten money into the system”.
Besides Rai, the CBI has named Air One Pvt Ltd, a private company, its chief security officer Prasun Roy, and unidentified staff of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) in its FIR. Rai and two others are being questioned by the CBI.
The agency on Thursday conducted searches at various locations linked to Rai across Delhi, Lucknow, Noida and Mumbai. “Confidential documents of various government departments, aerodrome entry passes and property papers have been recovered,” said a CBI officer.
“For the year 2017, his (Rai’s) bank account transactions, each above Rs 1 lakh, show credit of Rs 79 crore and for the same period reflect a debit of Rs 78.51 crore. He allegedly purchased a fleet of cars out of the ill-gotten money,” says the FIR. CBI sources said these cars include top of the line models like the Maybach.
“It is also learnt that in one year, he has received Rs 16 crore from shell companies, for bribing/ fixing cases in Income Tax and that he has received about Rs 6.5 crore from M/S Sahara India in one year,” says the FIR.
The agency alleged that Rai fraudulently obtained an Aerodrome Entry Pass (AEP) with the help of Air One Pvt Ltd and some BCAS officials. He also held a Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation card for editors. The PIB cancelled it three days ago.
According to the FIR, Rai applied for an AEP in January 2017 by claiming to be a consultant with Air One. The application was sponsored by Air One and cleared by BCAS without verification of credentials, and a temporary pass was issued by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL). Rai later applied for a permanent AEP by declaring himself as Director-Quality Control of Air One, and was granted the same by DIAL. His pass is valid till December 2018. CBI has said this act “jeopardised national security”.
The agency has said that two persons, Rahul Sharma and former journalist Sanjay Snehi, helped Rai to park the “ill-gotten money”.