From UPA to NDA governments, the probe into cases against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi has three CBI directors and a special director in its crosshairs. While the Delhi High Court on Friday refused to grant a stay on investigation against CBI number 2 Rakesh Asthana, ousted CBI director Alok Verma was indicted by the CVC for trying to influence probe into Qureshi’s case.
Verma and Asthana have accused each other of corruption in the Qureshi probe. Former CBI chiefs A P Singh and Ranjit Sinha have admitted their association with Qureshi but denied extending any favours to him.
Qureshi had visited Sinha’s house on more than 70 occasions between 2013 and 2014, when Sinha was the CBI director. An FIR was registered by the agency against Sinha in 2017 over his “private meetings” with suspects in cases CBI was investigating.
The CBI is also probing a case against A P Singh on his exchanges on Blackberry (BBM) with Qureshi. A CBI FIR, dated February 16, 2017, stated, “During the course of investigation…against AMQ Group of companies and Moin Qureshi, it is revealed that Qureshi has been indulging as a middleman for certain public servants and that the analysis of records disclose commission of cognizable offence.”
The FIR against Singh was registered on the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) complaint.
The case against Qureshi is yet to be chargesheeted by CBI.
Qureshi runs 25 firms, with AQM, which also exports meat, remaining the flagship company. He was booked under the 2015 Black Money Act and arrested, and granted bail in December 2017.
Qureshi’s name first came to light in February 2014 when the Income Tax Department carried out searches at his premises and found “incriminating” BBM messages between him and government officials, indicating that he allegedly took money from corporate entities to ‘fix’ CBI cases, such as that against Hyderabad-based businessman Pradeep Koner. A probe by ED, and later the CBI, revealed telephone recordings of Satish Babu Sana, another businessman from Hyderabad who was recently at the centre of the bribery scandal.
Officials said the tussle between Asthana and Verma began over their disagreement in the Qureshi case. The team headed by Asthana reportedly wanted to seek custodial interrogation of four of the accused — Qureshi, Pradeep Koneru, Aditya Sharma, an employee of Qureshi, and Sana — but Verma is learnt to have insisted that the proposal should first be sent to the CBI’s Director of Prosecution (DoP).
Asthana and Verma accused each other of receiving bribe from Sana for showing favours in the case. In its chargesheet filed against Qureshi in 2017, ED had said Qureshi received bribes totaling Rs 5.85 crore from Koneru for settling the CBI case, and Rs 2 crore bribe from Sana for another case.
According to Asthana’s complaint before CVC, Sana had been negotiating the bail of Sukesh Gupta, another Hyderabad businessman booked by CBI in a 2013 MMTC case.