The CBI on Friday arrested the vice-president of Soma Enterprises, PR Rao, for allegedly trying to offer a Rs 2 crore bribe to its DIG-ranked officer to clear a pending probe against the company, officials said.
Mr Rao was taken into custody following the arrest of MHA official Dheeraj Singh and a private person, Dinesh Chand Gupta. Mr Singh and Mr Gupta were arrested on Thursday morning, they said.
This is not the first tryst of Gupta with the CBI. In 2013, he allegedly attempted to bribe a CBI Superintendent of Police Vivek Dutt.
Later, in 2017, Mr Dutt was discharged by the Special CBI court as no evidence was found against him, but the court ordered framing of charges against Mr Gupta, they said.
It is alleged that Dheeraj Singh, posted in the Police-I Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, had called CBI Deputy Inspector General Asra Garg for a meeting where he offered Rs 2 crore as bribe to settle the matter against Soma Enterprises. The offer was made on behalf of Mr Rao, officials said.
Mr Garg, a Tamil Nadu-cadre IPS officer, apprised his seniors and filed a complaint regarding the offer, they said.
In his complaint dated September 11, 2019, Mr Garg, the DIG of the anti-corruption branch of CBI, alleged that Mr Singh, whom he knew, contacted him to say he wants him to meet a person.
Mr Garg said Mr Singh met him a few days ago and introduced Mr Gupta, a representative of Soma Enterprises, to him.
Mr Singh and Mr Gupta told Mr Garg that a CBI inquiry is under way against the company and they wanted his help in settling the matter in the company's favour for which they expressed readiness to pay Rs 2 crore as illegal gratification, the officer said in the complaint.
The agency swung into action after getting the complaint and the case was handed over to a different unit where an inspector was deputed to verify the claims.
As part of the verification process, Mr Garg was asked to call the duo for a meeting during which an independent witness armed with tapping devices would accompany him, posing as his driver.
The call from the officer was recorded and Mr Singh and Mr Gupta were called at the CNG station near the agency headquarters at 11 pm on Wednesday night.
Mr Garg reached there at 11.15 pm in his official vehicle along with the witness as his driver, and the verification officer was sitting in the rear of the vehicle.
Seeing Mr Garg, the duo sat inside the vehicle where Mr Gupta offered Rs 2 crore to settle the matter against Soma Enterprises.
After nearly 20 minutes of conversation, Mr Gupta stepped out of the vehicle and Mr Singh told the officer he was ready to make an upfront payment of Rs 10 lakh, kept at his residence.
Mr Gupta then made a phone call to vice-president Rao and made him speak to the officer during which he confirmed Mr Gupta was speaking on his behalf and he agreed with the offer.
The team returned to the headquarters with the recording of the meeting and phone conversation with Mr Rao.
The CBI arrested the duo on Thursday and recovered the alleged bribe amount from them while Mr Rao was arrested on Friday.