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Bank chief in CBI custody

S.K. Jain

New Delhi, Aug. 3: Syndicate Bank chief S.K. Jain and seven others arrested in a bribery case were today remanded in CBI custody for four days.

Two other accused — Neeraj Singhal, vice-chairman and managing director of Bhushan Steel, and alleged middleman Purushottam Totlani — are absconding.

“Our officials are conducting raids to arrest Singhal and Totlani. They have been absconding since yesterday,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.

Both were named in the FIR along with the eight arrested, and booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for criminal conspiracy.

“Among those arrested are Jain, Ved Prakash Agarwal, the head of Prakash Industries, Vipul Agarwal, Vijay Pahuja, Pawan Bansal, Pankaj Bansal and Jain’s relatives Vineet and Puneet Godha,” Prasad said.

They are now being interrogated at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi.

The bank chairman-cum-managing director was arrested yesterday from a five-star hotel in Mumbai after a relative was allegedly caught accepting Rs 50 lakh in cash on his behalf. Jain is accused of taking bribes to extend the credit limit of two companies under the scanner in the coal block allocations scandal.

The companies have been identified as Bhushan Steel, one of the top five players in steel in the country, and Prakash Industries, also in the steel and mining business. Neither company was ready to comment on the case today, reports PTI.

The CBI spokesperson had said yesterday that Bhushan used the services of Totlani to pay Vineet Godha.

Acting on a tip-off six months ago that Jain was allegedly demanding bribes directly and through middlemen to extend the credit limits of several companies, the CBI’s anti-corruption wing had put him under surveillance. The operation was monitored by CBI director Ranjit Sinha.

Industry sources could not readily recall another instance of a serving public sector bank chief being arrested.

The seven other accused were taken into custody from Bhopal, Bangalore and Delhi.

CBI sources said more arrests were likely in the case because some other companies are also involved. “We have also got a tip-off regarding other corruption cases involving higher-ups in the banking sector and officials are working on the leads,” a CBI official said.