CBI arrests MD of Essar Group, IT Commissioner in graft case

In an ironic twist of fate, just a day before his daughter's wedding, the Income-Tax Commissioner of (Appeals-30), B Rajendra Prasad was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the CBI in a Rs 2-crore bribery case.

CBI sources said that commissioner BB Rajendra Prasad and one other person has been arrested from Vishakhapatnam while four others have been taken into custody from Mumbai.

Sources suggest the Commissioner has been charged for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 19 lakh to favour a major corporate group.

In the FIR the CBI said that Balaji Trust through its CA had agreed to bribe Prasad. Apart from Essar House, the CBI conducted searches in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam and seized property documents, details of bank accounts, three lockers and several documents.

Astatement by Balaji Trust denied allegations regarding "any misconduct" by their executives.

According to Prasad's instructions, the money was to be delivered in Mumbai to Manish Jain (suspected to be the hawala operator), who would then transfer it to his relative Suresh Kumar Jain in Visakhapatnam. "Inquiries also revealed that Pradip Mittal, MD with the Essar Group, was personally monitoring the process of paying the bribe amount to Prasad", said a CBI officer.

The Balaji Trust matter was being handled by Parikh.

"There was a routine survey of records, conducted by CBI at the offices of two of our executives in connection with some I-T assessment orders". The payment, CBI found, was meant to be handed over to Prasad at his Vishakapatnam residence at an "opportune moment".

Meanwhile, a court in Mumbai today granted CBI the transit remand of Mittal, Bajpai, Parikh and Manish Jain who would be taken to Visakhapatnam.

The trust said its executives are cooperating with the investigation and would continue to do so. The total value of the company's assets attached stood at Rs 132 crore.

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