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Gingee quizzed

New Delhi, Sept. 10: The CBI finally managed to question Gingee Ramachandran in the transfer-for-cash scandal two days after he returned to the Union cabinet.

Ramachandran had resigned as minister of state for finance in May after his personal assistant, R. Perumalswamy, was caught taking a bribe of Rs 4 lakh from Indian Revenue Service officer Anurag Vardhan to arrange a transfer to Mumbai.

The newly-appointed minister of state for textiles was questioned by senior CBI officers at his house.

The May 22 arrest of Perumalswamy and Vardhan exposed how revenue officers were “buying” favourable postings.

Ramachandran had agreed to cooperate with the CBI in its investigations much before he was re-inducted into the cabinet. The minister was asked how long he had known Perumalswamy and what tasks his personal assistant had been assigned. He was also questioned about the role a minister of state for finance plays in transfers and postings of revenue officers.

The CBI will use Ramachandran’s statement to complete investigations in the case and file a chargesheet; it has clarified that there is no evidence pointing towards the minister’s involvement in the scandal.

Perumalswamy was a political appointee and not a bureaucrat, but Ramachandran was quick to disown his personal assistant today, saying he had exceeded his brief in arranging transfers, which is the job of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.

As a fallout of the scam, the government has put on hold the transfer of 54 senior Income Tax officials.

Back in May, the CBI also arrested Chennai-based charted accountant A Krishnamurthy. It alleged that chartered accountant was the go-between, fixing transfers and postings for revenue officers in return for cash. All the accused are out on bail now.

Vardhan, an IRS officer from the 1994 batch, had approached Krishnamurthy seeking a transfer to Mumbai. The deal was fixed for Rs 5 lakh, and the officer was later asked to pay Rs 4 lakh to a “tout”, who turned out to be Perumalswamy.

The money was handed over after the order transferring Vardhan was passed on May 21.

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