STC officials’ custody extended to Aug 6 in wheat import scam

July 23rd, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) A court here Wednesday extended till Aug 6 the judicial custody of two men accused of fraud in the State Trading Corporation’s (STC) import of wheat from Austrialia in 1998. Special CBI Judge Vinod Goel passed the order when senior STC official H.R.Sardana and US national Nirnajan Shah, who had allegedly played a role in brokering the deal with the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), when they were brought to the court on the expiry of their judicial custody.

The court also rejected the bail plea of S.M. Dewan, who was the STC’s chief managing director at the time of the deal.

The CBI had registered a case in September 2001 following allegations that the decision to import two million tonnes of wheat from the AWB in 1998 was taken even though the STC’s stock position was comfortable.

The other bidders were rejected allegedly on frivolous grounds and the contract was awarded to the AWB at exorbitant prices.

During the investigation, a letter rogatory (LR) was sent to the Australian authorities seeking information on certain vital aspects, like the involvement of middlemen in the contract and the payment of commission, if any, in the deal.

The CBI filed a closure report in January 2004, saying the Australian authorities had not provided the required information.

However, an enquiry conducted by the Australian government on the conduct of its companies involved in the UN Oil for Food Programme for Iraq revealed that the AWB paid commissions in the 1998 deal with India.

The CBI re-opened the case July 7 and conducted searches at six places in Delhi as well as in the suburban towns of Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

Dewan and Sardana were arrested July 9 while Shah was arrested July 18.

In its probe against them, the CBI found Dewan and Sardana had acquired properties and assets worth millions of rupees in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

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