The CBI has given a clean chit to Gujarat cadre IPS officer and chief of the BSF and the NCB Rakesh Asthana, who is also a front-runner to head the agency, in the Vadodara-based Sandesara brothers’ Sterling Biotech bribery case.
Mr. Asthana’s alleged involvement was under the scanner due to certain handwritten diaries maintained by the brothers, in which as per the allegations Mr. Asthana was ‘beneficiary’ of unaccounted money.
The Sandesara brothers and other directors of the Sterling Biotech are fugitives wanted in connection with a ₹5,383-crore bank loan fraud case.
In the diaries, it was mentioned multiple times that money was paid to one “RA.” This was suspected to be Mr. Asthana since he had earlier worked as the Police Commissioner of Vadodara and reportedly had close family relations with the brothers.
However, it was later clarified that “RA” stood for running account.
The CBI has now closed the inquiry that was launched to probe the alleged transactions .
“It was a roving inquiry and nothing has been found in it,” a CBI official told The Hindu .
The case was one of the several cases former CBI chief Alok Verma had listed against Mr. Asthana, his No. 2, during an open and ugly fight between them in 2018 .
Following this, both were shunted out of the organisation on the recommendation of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
Earlier, Mr. Asthana was given clean chit in the CBI bribery case also.
The government is under the process of appointing CBI chief as the tenure of RS Shukla had ended earlier this month. At present, Praveen Sinha is the interim head. Among the front-runners for the coveted post are NIA chief YC Mody and Kerala DGP Loknath Behera besides Mr. Asthana.