A Peek into CBI Interim Chief, Rao’s ‘Murky Past Record”

While claiming to “clean up” the country’s premier probe agency, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has shunted out two top officials facing charges of corruption and appointed Nageswar Rao — a relatively junior 1986-batch bureaucrat — as the interim chief of the CBI.

Nageswar Rao

At the time when Mr Rao joined the CBI in 2015 (during the Modi regime), the agency was headed by Anil Sinha. Objections had been raised about his elevation.  It was Amitabh Singh Dhillon, the head of the agency’s counter-intelligence unit or Special Unit, had then tabled an adverse report on Mr Rao — saying that he should not be inducted on the grounds of corruption charges levelled against him and his alleged proximity to political parties. Inexplicably, for a government that claims the moral high ground on corruption, this assessment was ignored by Mr Sinha as well as the government.

The slew of corruption charges are many and need to be recalled.
It was senior advocate Prashant Bhushan who posted some of these allegations on Twitter, but the CBI has simply refused to react. An article on savukkuonline.com titled “ Nageshwar Rao: CBI’s black sheep” was also posted by Bhushan. This article details the many questionable deals, transactions and investigations that Nageshwar Rao is allegedly involved in.
Some related to the purchase of State Bank of India land by VGN Developers, a Chennai-based firm. According to the complaint, Mr Rao — who was the then Chennai Zone head — had not hauled up the accused despite the land being sold at a loss to the exchequer. This was one of the reasons for DMK leader MK Stalin criticising his elevation to the post of CBI Director.

This, however, is not the only complaint filed against Mr Rao.

Then, while Mr Rao was serving as a joint director in the CBI earlier in 2018, a file titled “Premature repatriation of Shri Nageswar Rao, IPS” (File no 202/01/2015) was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security. It suggested that the official must be sent back to Odisha in the light of several complaints, one of which he allegedly closed down in connivance with a senior Delhi official. According to the complaint, Mr Rao had allegedly tried to stall the probe against over 70 Income Tax (I-T) officers listed in arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s diaries.

The police had arrested Mr Bhandari along with I-T Joint Commissioner Sallong Yaden in January 2015, and incriminating evidence against several officials was allegedly recovered from his possession. Incidentally, the ruling BJP has accused Mr Bhandari of being close to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Rao is also accused of misrepresenting facts in his own annual tax returns. All his assets filings post-2010 show a Rs. 20-lakh property owned by his wife and her cousin in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The cousin — Dr Ratna Babu — was later revealed to be the brother of his wife, Chinnam Sandhya.

Speaking to Sabrangindia, Prashant Bhushan said, “It is a shame that a man with such a record has been appointed to as Interim Director. He is a goon or goonda in police robes”.

Allegations against Nageshwar Rao:
1. Nageshwar Rao was appointed in the year 2015- Amitabh Singh Dhillon, the head of the agency’s counter-intelligence unit or Special Unit, had then tabled an adverse report on Mr Rao — saying that he should not be inducted on the grounds of corruption charges levelled against him and his alleged proximity to political parties.
However, the assessment was ignored by the then head of CBI- Anil Sinha and the government. 
2. Corruption charges against him-  
 a. Purchase of SBI land by VGN developers (Chennai-based firm)- Mr. Rao (Chennai Zone Head then) did not haul up the accused despite land being sold at a loss to the exchequer. 
Savukku’s article details this fraud as to how SBI sold the land to VGN developers for lesser price and to the disadvantage of the government.
The documents of the above fraud were sent to CBI, but it was only after 18 months and continuous follow-up the FIR was registered. However, the CBI failed to conduct any searches in its regard.  “According to highly placed sources in CBI, Nageswara Rao was the one who took the decision not to conduct any searches.”
A detailed complaint of the above against Rao was then sent to the CBI Director (Anil Sinha).
Abstracts from the complaint:
 “Though the FIR (VGN) was registered on 28.12.2016, Shri.Nageswara Rao, failed to instruct the I.O. to conduct any search operations in connection with the case. Due to this serious lapse, sources say, some serious evidence of bribery by the VGN Developers to various state and central government officials was lost and the said evidence was published in media last week. Instead of allotting this case for investigation to an I.O. of police / investigation background, Shri.Rao, assisgned the investigation of this sensitive case to one Shri.Velayutham, who is a deputee from Indian Bank for reasons best known to him.

Shri.Nageswara Rao, failed to issue any clear instructions with regard to the investigation of this case or monitor the progress of this investigation. However, he had ensured that he is always kept in the loop with regard to any developments. Though the allegation as per the FIR is that the land in dispute which was purchased by VGN developers was purchased below market price, there are widespread allegations of the involvement of two senior IAS officers of TN cadre who facilitated issuance of NOC for the sale. Sources also claim that one Ram Mohana Rao, who was a former Chief Secretary of TN government had also received sizeable money from VGN promoters.

However, no investigation whatsoever has been conducted in this regard. Further, as per sources, VGN Developers sent part of the bribe amount of Rs.2 crores intended for the SBI officials through one Ganesh Raj, retired Assistant General Manager of SBI. Rs.80 lakhs of the bribe amount was sent by VGN Developers to HTL account. From the HTL account, the above mentioned Ganesh Raj transferred the amount to his account, later encashed the same and handed over the bribe amounts in cash to A.1 Leon Therattil and A.2 Ramadoss. A simple verification of the bank accounts of Ganesh Raj and HTL would have revealed evidence of bribery. But, Shri.Nageswara Rao, chose not to touch any crucial area of investigation.

Now, according to sources, Shri.Nageswara Rao had instructed the I.O Shri.Velayutham to give a closure report in the above RC and accordingly a report stating that the Bank has not suffered any loss, the amount due is recovered and no further action is required has been given and the same has been approved and sent to Delhi by Shri.Nageswara Rao. Sources also reveal that Shri.Nageswara Rao, is strongly connected with the Telugu officers in Tamil Nadu and is in the habit of passing on several sensitive information to the officers. One such officer who is regularly in touch with Shri.Nageswara Rao, is former Chief Secretary of TN, Shri.Ram Mohana Rao.”
Rao, it is alleged. supressed this complaint with the help of KV Chaudhary.  CBI Director, after making due verification tried to repatriate Rao, KV.Chaudry, shot down his proposal, say sources.  
b. As CBI Joint Director- “Premature repatriation of Shri Nageswar Rao, IPS” (File no 202/01/2015) was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security. The file suggested that he be sent back to Odisha in light of several complaints against him. According to it
i. He tried to stall the probe against over 70 Income Tax (I-T) officers listed in arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s diaries. 
ii. Accused of misrepresenting facts in his annual tax returns- All his assets filings post-2010 show a Rs. 20-lakh property owned by his wife and her cousin in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Loans for this purchase were acquired from The firm Angela Mercantiles Private Limited (shell company belonging to the same set of accused). 

  • Rao’s wife, M Sandhya has also reportedly given a loan of Rs.38,27,141/- to this company, which was outstanding as of 31.03.2013. She has reportedly suppressed her husband’s name from RoC records and has instead used her father’s name – Chinnam Vishnu Narayana in all the records.
  • Rao’s wife has invested to the extent of more than 60 lakhs in the company, it is alleged, and obtained 25 lakhs as loan (which could be a case of money-laundering). 
  • Rao’s wife- shareholder of the company- in the details of shareholders filed by the company- her address is that of another shell company and not the address of the shareholder. 

3. During his tenure in his parent cadre, Odisha, Nageswara Rao had in the year 2011, reportedly purchased a plot of government land, allegedly using forged documents at Khurda, Odisha, from a lady. Due to reasons that remain unclear, the deal fell through and litigation in this regard is pending in 14th Additional Civil Court, Khurda in Civil Suit No. 9211/2015.  
4. A detailed source report was sent to CBI Director, Alok Kumar Verma, following which he had ordered a discreet enquiry into allegations on Nageswara Rao. Alarmingly, the discreet enquiry had thrown up enough material to not only create grounds for the repatriation of Nageswara Rao out of CBI, but to also launch prosecution against him, add sources. However, reportedly due to the backing of (CVC) KV Chaudhary, nothing could be done. 
5. CBI Director, Alok Verma decided to save the cases, at least, from going down the drain. Alok Verma, ordered the transfer of the investigation of important cases from the Chennai Zone of CBI to the Banking and Securities Fraud Cell (BSFC) of Bengaluru. Nageswara Rao’s jurisdiction did not extend to BSFC and it works under the direct supervision of a separate Joint Director, meant exclusively for BSFC.
Today as “Interim Director” Rao has complete control. It is a matter of deep concern that a high level political intervention has resulted in such a quetionable appointment.



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