Soon after they were granted bail by a court here in a corruption case that accused them of having received $530,000 from a Zurich-based arms supplier to reverse the process of its blacklisting, the CBI on Wednesday arrested businessman Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Neacsu in a fresh case of forgery.
The couple are now accused of forging an unsigned letter of the former Minister of State for Home, Ajay Maken, addressed to the Prime Minister to facilitate extension of visas for the employees of a foreign company.
Mr. Verma his Romanian wife moved bail applications on Tuesday, saying the CBI had failed to file a charge-sheet in the case within 60 days from the time of their arrest. Accordingly, the designated court on Wednesday granted them bail on a personal bond of Rs. 10 lakh each with two sureties of the same amount.
However, the CBI informed the court that it had registered a forgery case on Wednesday against both and others, following which the court sent the two to one-day judicial custody.
Under the latest case, Mr. Verma and his wife, as director of Ganton India Private Limited, along with others, have been accused of taking or attempting to take gratification for influencing public servants under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, forging documents for harming the reputation of a person under Section 469 of the Indian Penal Code and sending false/offensive message under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
“About a fortnight ago, we received a complaint from Union Minister Ajay Maken, alleging that his letter-head had been forged and the same was used to prepare a letter with the aim of obtaining visas for the employees of a foreign company,” said a CBI official.
The letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was submitted to the CBI by Mr. Verma’s U.S.-based former business associate C. Edmonds Allen.
The unsigned letter raised the issue of thousands of foreign nationals staying in the country on business visas, stating that abrupt withdrawal of their visas would not only cause them personal hardship but also adversely affect the projects in which they were engaged.
It is alleged that ZTE Telecom India Private Limited, having its office in Gurgaon, entered into a contract with Ganton India for conversion of business visas of about 350 foreign employees working with its division and sister concerns in India into work visas, for which the company allegedly undertook to pay $ 1,000 per head to the accused.
ZTE Telecom, which has been named in the case along with Ganton India, allegedly struck the agreement in view of the circulars issued at the instance of the Home Ministry in October 2009 that directed foreign nationals in the country on business visas to return to their countries by the month-end.
It is alleged that Ganton India produced the draft letter purportedly on the letterhead of the then MoS Mr. Maken to convince ZTE Telecom that it was pursuing the matter on its behalf.
Meanwhile, the ED moved the court of Special Judge Sanjeev Jain, seeking to arrest Mr. Verma and his wife in a money-laundering case.
(With inputs from Jiby Kattakayam)