The CBI has arrested Income Tax Commissioner BB Rajendra Prasad from Mumbai, Essar Group’s MD Pradeep Mittal and four others in a bribery case. The arrests took place in Visakhapatnam.
Prasad is a 1992 batch Indian Revenue Service officer who handled appeals related to tax matters in Mumbai. He allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 2 crore for favouring Balaji Trust for an order. Essar Group of companies is a trustee and had filed an income tax appeal through their CA with the appeal coming before Prasad for hearing. Prasad promised a favourable hearing in return for the Rs 2 crore. Inquiries reportedly revealed that Essar Group’s MD Pradeep Mittal was monitoring the entire process personally.
Prasad was caught red handed while receiving Rs 19.34 lakh from a real estate agent, Suresh Kumar Jain, in Visakhapatnam. Both were placed under arrest on Tuesday. While searching the real estate agent’s residence, the CBI found Rs 1.50 crore in cash, send in by Mittal’s office. CBI’s trail indicates that Prasad delivered the money to Shreyas Parikh, a CA at M/S GK Choksi via Vipin Bajpai, an accounts officer at the Essar Group.
Upon receiving the money, Parikh contacted Jain and asked him to collect it, upon which Jain asked his relative Manish Jain who runs a jewellery business in Zaveri Bazaar to collect the amount and deliver it to him in Visakhapatnam. CBI searches that were conducted in Visakhapatnam and Mumbai at the offices and homes of the accused led to recovery of property documents, details of bank accounts, three lockers and several incriminating documents.
The CBI has produced Bajpai, Parikh, Mittal and Manish in Sessions Court and obtained transit demand to bring them to Visakhapatnam for further investigation.