New Delhi: CBI Friday night arrested a Finance Ministry official and a partner of a Mumbai-based law firm which was searched today by the agency in connection with the alleged sale of confidential documents to corporate groups.
CBI sources said Ramniwas, an Assistant in FIPB section, Finance Ministry and Paresh Chimanlal Buddhadeb, partner in Chitalay Associates, were arrested for allegedly leaking documents on government's foreign investment policies.
During the searches carried out by the agency, Paresh was nabbed while trying to destroy two sacks of documents from his office. Some of these documents have been recovered, the sources said.
CBI had also carried out searches at the offices of Chitale Law Associates based in Worli and Mitesh J Majithia, a chartered accountant. They were allegedly in touch with chartered accountant Khemchand Gandhi.
CBI has registered a case of criminal conspiracy, theft under IPC and misuse of official position under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Gandhi, Under Secretary in Department of Disinvestment and Grievances Ashok Kumar Singh and Section Officer in the Department of Economic Affairs Lala Ram Sharma. All three were arrested yesterday.
Singh and Sharma were today produced before a Special CBI court which remanded them to to CBI custody till March 17.
It is alleged that the government servants were passing on documents related to foreign investment policies, which were being floated in the ministries, to Gandhi who in turn passed them on to big corporates for a price.
The sources said so far the probe has indicated that "first and second" levels of decision making in the Ministries of Finance and Commerce relating to foreign investments were allegedly "compromised".
They said the names of some more officials of these two ministries and about five more corporate groups have cropped up during investigation which will be probed by the CBI.
The sources said that a senior official has been sent to Mumbai to oversee the probe in the matter.
They said about five more corporate groups are under the
scanner for being the suspected beneficiaries of documents related to foreign investment policies which takes the tally to about a dozen such business houses.
The sources said a trove of confidential documents and Rs 60 lakh cash was allegedly recovered from the residence of Gandhi yesterday besides a large number of electronic documents have been found on the laptop, tablets and hard disks recovered from the residence of officials and CA.
They said during the searches today the agency has recovered several more confidential documents and file notings related to foreign investment policies which are being scrutinised.
Singh, who was handling key matters related to foreign investment policy, was allegedly using two email accounts for sending information to Gandhi, the agency claimed.
The sources said the agency has also taken the passwords of two email accounts which were allegedly used by arrested Under Secretary for passing on information to Gandhi who is being brought to Delhi for further questioning.
Sources have said the racket was allegedly active for last two years and may have influenced government policy regarding foreign investments in India.
They had said CBI was tracking the officials and the CA for some time and yesterday intercepted a courier in Mumbai in which an entire confidential file was recovered.
The courier was allegedly sent by Singh to Gandhi, they had said.