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On WhatsApp, the bribery case CBI built against ED officer

CBI chargesheet lists 163 messages between then ED joint director J P Singh and alleged bookies, says he was extorting from them through conduits

Written by Satish Jha | Ahmedabad | Updated: May 16, 2017 5:04:32 am


WhatsApp, WhatsApp Bribery, CBI WhatsApp, WhatsApp CBI, ED officer, Indian Express, Indian Express News J P Singh, now accused of bribery in the betting case, was arrested last February

“Sir we have busted 5000 cr worth betting racket spreading from India to Dubai, Pakistan and UK.” This, according to the CBI, was a WhatsApp message sent on March 24, 2015, by J P Singh, then joint director of the Enforcement Directorate in Ahmedabad, to a senior Indian Revenue Officer, P K Das.

Two days later, Singh reportedly sent a message to one Bimal: “PMLA case registered.” And three days after that, another message to the same person: “Inka khel ab khatam hoga (Their game will soon be up).”

These are among a series of messages mentioned in the CBI chargesheet, filed last month, against J P Singh and others in a cricket betting case. Singh, now accused of bribery in the betting case, was arrested last February.

The chargesheet lists 163 WhatsApp messages allegedly between him and bookies. Most of the messages, the CBI contends, show that Singh was constantly getting information about bookies from accused Bimal Agrawal and others, and that he responding with details of action being taken against the bookies.

In the few months following the message in which Singh reportedly declared rackets his team had busted, the ED cracked down on cricket bookies from Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur. The ED investigation estimated — according to the CBI chargesheet — that the extent of money laundering by the network of these bookies ran into nearly Rs 5,000 crore with routes in Dubai, Pakistan and the UK.

Messages detailed by the CBI include an alleged exchange between Singh and J Thakkar — the chargesheet identifies him as accused Jayesh Thakkar, now on bail — during the last quarter of 2015. “Sonu Batla bahot nam kharab kar raha hai aapka (Sonu Batla is defaming you),” Thakkar reportedly messaged Singh, who allegedly responded: “Aaj iski band bajate hain (Will take him to task today).”

In September 2015, the CBI booked Singh and unknown persons for allegedly taking huge bribes while probing the cricket betting and Surat hawala cases. Singh’s arrest came in February, followed by the chargesheet accusing Singh, assistant director Sanjay Kumar — his then subordinate — and eight others including bookies of collecting more than Rs 8.75 crore. The CBI has accused Kumar of taking a bribe of Rs 4 crore from bookies. In the Surat case, the CBI investigation is still on.

While the 11,000-page chargesheet is against 10 accused, the CBI is waiting for government sanction for prosecuting government servants Singh and Kumar under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In the 50-page summary of the chargesheet, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, the CBI has alleged that Singh took money through his conduits, mainly Mumbai-based Bimal Agrawal. It alleges that Agrawal, with the help of co-accused Sonu Jalan of Mumbai; J K Arora, Surendra Kalra alias Mandi of Delhi; Dhruv Kumar of Lucknow; and Thakkar, Chandresh Patel and Paresh Patel of Ahmedabad extorted from the bookies whose name had cropped up during the investigation led by Singh.

“The analysis of WhatsApp messages disclosed that J P Singh, then JD/ED, not only shared the messages for information but also the sensitive official information like registration of PMLA case, issuance of NBW, conducting of searches and arrest of accused persons etc. J P Singh exchanged various officials/confidential messages with Bimal Agrawal and in turn Bimal Agrawal collected money and also attempted for collection from various bookies/punters on behalf of J P Singh,” the chargesheet says.

According to the chargesheet, Bimal Agrawal demanded Rs 3 crore from Delhi-based Manoj Jain, an alleged punter, to protect him from an ED probe. It says the punter mortgaged his house for Rs 1 crore and also sold a flat for Rs 1.75 crore. It goes on to allege that J K Arora collected Rs 50 lakh from one Mann Arora while Jain gave Rs 1 crore to the drivers of J K Arora and had another Rs 75 lakh delivered to a person as instructed by Sonu Jalan. Jain was never summoned by the ED, says the CBI chargesheet.

It alleges that the accused also took protection money from Delhi-based bookie Surinder Mandi (co-accused with Singh) who gave Rs 50 lakh in cash to Agrawal and Jalan through an angadia firm, Babu Lal & Co. “Mandi was also used by them as an accomplice to obtain information about other Delhi-based bookies. Surinder Mandi had contacted Balkishan, Sonu Maggu, Ashu Ganganagar, Arun Gupta, Mahendra Mittal, Pawan Jaipur, Dinesh Trinagar Delhi and Rock Delhi,” it says.

The chargesheet states the accused took Rs 2 crore from Anil Naukar, allegedly an Ahmedabad-based bookie, against whom Singh got three notices issued. The CBI alleges Singh assaulted Naukar at his office. It alleges that another Rs 2 crore was collected from city-based bookie Dinesh Anada and attempts were made to extort from Delhi-based bookies and builders Mukesh Sharma, Bal Kishan and Ashish Grover.

The CBI alleges that another accused, Dhruv Kumar Singh, collected Rs 50 lakh through the angadia firm Alpesh Babulal & Co. It alleges J P Singh and Dhruv exchanged various calls between October 2014 and August 2015, and adds that J P Singh’s father-in-law too exchanged calls frequently with Dhruv.

The CBI has alleged that more than Rs 90 lakh “ill-gotten money was parked” in a Lucknow-based company, Mercury Nursing Home and Medipharma Pvt Ltd, in which J P Singh’s brother and sister-in-law are shareholders.

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