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CBI finds more damning evidence against top Delhi babu Rajendra Kumar

Suhas Munshi | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claims to be just a short time away from closing the case against former Principal Secretary of Delhi, Rajendra Kumar, and six others.

Senior officers in the agency claim that the money trail they were after in the alleged Rs 50 crore scam has been largely unearthed.

The agency has traced cash transactions of Rs 60 lakh in bribe, for instance, which allegedly changed hands between the accused.

A senior bureaucrat, who is in police custody right now, was paid Rs 60 lakh in installments by another accused, also in custody, to influence the contracts. This money was allegedly used by the first bureaucrat to buy a flat at concessional rates in Noida, in his wife's name.

CBI has alleged the whole scam to be worth Rs 50 crore, and it claims Rajendra Kumar is the 'kingpin'. The police custody of Kumar and six others was extended by three days by a CBI court in Delhi on Monday.

The six accused, according to the probe agency, took a cut of Rs 3 crore in this scam.

Recap of the alleged scam

The charges against Kumar and his associates is that they set up a company - ESPL - and used their influence in a PSU - ICSIL - to award several multi-crore contracts to ESPL. Some of these contracts were handed over without going through the normal process of issuing tenders.

Kumar and the others reportedly wielded influence in ICSIL, a PSU which is a joint venture of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited, a Government of India enterprise, and Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), an undertaking of the Delhi Government. ICSIL is the nodal go-to agency for all software and hardware needs of the government.

Catch had earlier reported how CBI had discovered that Rajendra Kumar used to send voice mails to his associates in ESPL, to instruct them on how to apply for contracts, and directed some people in ICSIL and the Delhi government on specifics about the contracts he wanted them to award to ESPL.

New findings by CBI

"We have found a lot of incriminating evidence against the seven accused. In the raids that we conducted at six different locations on 9 July, we got more evidence and about not only the modus operandi of the accused, but have crucially got to the bottom of their money trail as well," said an officer.

There couldn't have been an easier open-and-shut case according to the officer. "To be honest, we feel we've been really lucky to get so much evidence against all the accused in such a short time," said the officer. He claimed that the investigations would take a maximum of a month to conclude.

"For instance, we found ESPL sent large amounts of money, which it got from the contracts it illegally bagged from the Delhi government, to a publishing company in Agra. One such payment was of Rs 80 lakh. This payment was made against fake invoices," said the officer.

The officer said in the CBI's efforts to find out why had ESPL made these huge payments to the publishing firm, it checked the gate passes of that company to find any packages that were either received or were sent by the company. But there was no record of any such transaction.

The CBI also found that a contract worth Rs 3.3 crore that the VAT department of the Delhi government had awarded to ESPL for modernising its software system, but despite getting the software, the department had not used it.

"What we're saying basically is that this was an unnecessary contract. The VAT department's software was based on .NET architecture, which it found to be obsolete. It then placed an order for latest Microsoft software, which it bought from ESPL at a cost of Rs 3.3 crore. We found that this software, which was hastily bought years ago, is still packed in boxes in its offices."

On Monday, the CBI, arguing for the police custody of the seven accused, claimed it had recorded a damning statement by a colleague, "who claimed that she was being pressurised by one of the accused".

Two of the seven accused - GK Nanda and RS Kaushik - whose three-day custody the CBI got on Monday, were arrested on Saturday. While Nanda is a former managing director of ICSIL, Kaushik is its current MD.

According to CBI, Kaushik abused his position by manipulating advertisements for tenders in a way that ESPL bagged multi-crore contracts. Nanda was also accused of abusing his position in ICSIL to frame tenders in a way that ESPL became the only bidder.

But the CBI will have to put more evidence of what it has found against Kumar and the six other accused in the next hearing in the CBI court on Thursday.

Also, as the ruling Aam Aadmi Party has politically fallen silent on this issue after making noise about it six days ago, it remains to be seen how far the Delhi government will go to defend its top babus accused in a major corruption scandal.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 11 July 2016, 11:24 IST
Suhas Munshi @suhasmunshi

He hasn't been to journalism school, as evident by his refusal to end articles with 'ENDS' or 'EOM'. Principal correspondent at Catch, Suhas studied engineering and wrote code for a living before moving to writing mystery-shrouded-pall-of-gloom crime stories. On being accepted as an intern at Livemint in 2010, he etched PRESS onto his scooter. Some more bylines followed in Hindustan Times, Times of India and Mail Today.