Transfer Racket In FinMin Busted

New Delhi, May 22: | Updated: May 23 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has nabbed R Perumalswamy, personal assistant of minister of state for finance (revenue) Gingee N Ramachandran, on charges of bribery. Mr Perumalswamy was nabbed on Thursday morning for accepting Rs 4 lakh in lieu of facilitating the transfer of a deputy commissioner of income tax. Within a few hours of the arrest, finance minister Jaswant Singh issued a statement and ordered that 54 pending transfers of middle-level officials in the income-tax department be kept in abeyance.

Gingee N Ramachandran
Mr Singh has instructed that the transfer order affecting 54 deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners of Income Tax of May 21, 2003, be held in abeyance, the statement said. Mr Perumalswamy was a political appointee of Mr Ramachandran. The minister is part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition as a representative of the Marunmalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK). Mr Perumalswamy was accepting the bribe from Anurag Vardhan, deputy commissioner of income tax, in New Delhi. Mr Vardhan wanted a choice posting in Mumbai. There are unconfirmed reports that the entire deal was struck at Rs 50 lakh.

Mr Ramachandran was unavailable for comment. Aides at his residence said he would be returning on Friday. They denied any indication by the minister to quit on moral grounds. Mr Ramachandran is a member of the Lok Sabha from Tindivanam constituency in Tamil Nadu.

It is reliably learnt that the FM is concerned about corruption in his ministry including the banking division. This division is under the Shiv Sena, another coalition partner. The coalition character of the government has made it difficult to take action.

Talking to FE, revenue secretary C S Rao said the larger issue of systematising, rationalising and making process of transfers and posting of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers more transparent has already been undertaken by the ministry.

Mr Raowho is retiring at the end of the monthrefrained from commenting anything specific on the arrest. He said a larger exercise of streamlining transfers and posting was going on. The ministry, he added, was working on issues like how much time an officer should spent at one place and what should the guidelines be for transferring officers.

According to sources, the CBI acted on a specific tip off. The agency made a surprise raid while Mr Perumalswamy alias Babu, was accepting the bribe after the latter was given his choice posting to Mumbai.

Sources said Mr Vardhan had approached the ministers PA through Krishnamurthy, an alleged middleman in Chennai. The orders for Mr Vardhans transfer to Mumbai were issued last evening. Following this, Mr Perumalswamy had gone to meet the revenue official at his residence at Safdarjung Enclave for taking mutually agreed amount. The CBI later searched the house and office of Mr Perumalswamy. The CBI claimed to have recovered some incriminating documents including some chits. Names of different officers, amounts paid and the choice of postings were inscribed on these chits.

Searches at the residence of Mr Krishnamurthy in Chennai were continuing. The CBI had recovered Rs 65 lakh until the filing of this news report. Besides, cheques amounting to Rs 57 lakh were recovered. Mr Krishnamurthy is believed to be the chartered accountant of Mr Perumalswamy. Meanwhile, an embarassed Bharatiya Janata Party termed the entire drama as unfortunate.

It is unfortunate. We are confident the truth will come out during the investigations, party spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters.

Mr Naqvi, however, parried questions whether Mr Ramachandran would be dropped from the Cabinet following the arrest of his personal aide.