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Sunday, February 05 2023

CBI gets six more days custody of GAIL officer held for graft

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New Delhi: The CBI on Monday January 17 got six day custodial remand of GAIL’s Director, Marketing, E. S. Ranganathan, who was arrested on Sunday in a corruption case.

On Saturday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested five other persons in this connection. They were identified as Pawan Gaur, Ramakrishnan Nair, Rajesh Kumar, Saurabh Gupta, and Aditya Bansal. A court had said Ranganathan and two others to one day remand and the other three to six days custody of the agency.

On Monday, the CBI produced Ranganathan before the court after the expiry of his one day custody and sought more time to interrogate him and others. After hearing their arguments, the court allowed their plea and granted them six days remand.

“The GAIL official was arrested by us for allegedly taking bribe from businessmen for issuing discount order on purchasing of petro products. Five persons were arrested on Saturday. The court today granted six days police custody of Ranganathan, Gupta and Bansal,” said a CBI official.

Gaur, Nair, and Rajesh Kumar were sent to six days custody.

The CBI had on Saturday conducted raids at the residence of Ranganathan and several NCR-based locations in connection with the alleged bribe case.

Cash of Rs. 1.29 crore, gold jewellery worth Rs. 1.3 crore and other valuables were recovered during the searches at the premises of the accused.

A CBI official said that a case was lodged in this respect on Friday after it got information that Ranganathan was indulging in corrupt and illegal activities in criminal conspiracy with Gaur and Rajesh Kumar.

These two persons were allegedly acting as his middlemen, by obtaining bribes from the private companies buying petro chemical products marketed by GAIL.

“We were informed that at the direction of Rajesh, Pawan had asked Ranganathan for allowing some discount to the buyers on petrochemical products being marketed by GAIL in lieu of illegal gratification. They met at Noida several times,” said a CBI source.

In order to collect bribe amount, Rajesh Kumar had further contacted other dealers, who could be the prospective beneficiaries of the discount.

In December, Rajesh Kumar collected the demanded bribe amount from beneficiary parties and delivered it to Pawan for Ranganathan.

“On the direction of Ranganathan, Gurugram-based businessman N. Ramakrishnan Nair collected the Rs. 40 lakh from Gaur.

Rajesh Kumar also entered into negotiations with two more prospective beneficiary dealers, namely Gupta and Bansal, and convinced them to pay the bribe in exchange for the favourable orders from GAIL, an official said.

The CBI official said that Rajesh Kumar requested Gupta for fulfilling his commitment for issuance of the discount order by GAIL and also informed that Ranganathan had demanded Rs. 15 lakh but agreed to take Rs. 12 lakh.

Gaur also asked Gupta to pay the amount at the earliest.

Gupta had already given Rs. 3 lakh to Rajesh Kumar and decided to pay the rest of the amount through hawala channel.

On January 14, Bansal also gave a bribe to Rajesh Kumar for Ranganathan.

“Ranganathan, on the request of Gaur and Rajesh Kumar, got some checks conducted in the month of November, in the premises of some authorised stockists of GAIL. However, before the said surprise check, Ranganathan had also cautioned some of his favoured parties. Thus they committed huge fraud and we lodged a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” said the CBI official.

Further investigations are in progress, the official said

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