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Call records, WhatsApp messages: How CBI built case against its Special Director Asthana

The CBI started the probe following the arrest of a Dubai-based middleman Manoj Prasad on October 16, 2018. 

Call records, WhatsApp messages: How CBI built case against its Special Director Asthana
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New Delhi: In a major development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked its second-in-command Special Director Rakesh Asthana for allegedly accepting bribes on Sunday.

But building the case against Asthana was not easy.

The CBI started the probe following the arrest of a Dubai-based middleman Manoj Prasad on October 16, 2018. 

The investigative agency intercepted nine phone calls immediately after middleman Manoj Prasad was held in the alleged bribery case against Asthana, to allege that there was panic after the middleman's brother, Somesh Prasad got "wind" of the arrest, officials said Sunday.

Call data analysis shows that the phone calls were allegedly exchanged between Asthana and a senior officer of another intelligence agency, who wanted to confirm the details of the middleman's arrest. 

Prasad reportedly came to know his brother's arrest on October 16 and immediately called his contact, the senior officer of the intelligence agency on the same day. A call was then made by the officer to Somesh within a minute, claims CBI.

Next day, the intelligence agency officer allegedly called Asthana to purportedly know the situation. 

Three more calls were exchanged between the two, the agency claimed.

The calls were also exchanged between the senior officer and the wife of middleman Prasad among others, an officer claimed. 

The sources claimed that call data records show that four calls were exchanged between Asthana and the senior officer on October 17, 2018, a day after the arrest.

In addition to the call exchanges, CBI is also depending heavily on the Whatsapp messages recovered from Manoj Prasad's phone. 

The CBI registered the case on the basis of claims made by businessman Sathish Sana, probed by him in a separate case, that he was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 5 crore by Manoj Prasad, an investment banker based in Dubai to get relief from repeated summons and a clean chit in the case, they said.

Satish also claimed that he was being harassed by the CBI officers to pay more. 

Interestingly, Asthana, the second-in-command in the agency, had intimated the cabinet secretary nearly two months ago that Sana had allegedly paid a bribe of Rs 2 crore to CBI Chief Alok Verma to get relief in the case.

The CBI is now defending Director Verma, terming the charges as "false and malicious".

In his letters to the Cabinet Secretary and Central Vigilance Commission, Asthana had written about 10 cases of alleged corruption and irregularities against the CBI Director Alok Verma, levelling serious corruption charges in some of them.

One of the case pertained to Sathish Sana, a businessman facing probe in a corruption case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi in which Asthana had alleged on August 24 that Sana paid Rs two crore to Verma to get relief in the case.

With agency inputs