Amassed 119 Times More Than His Last Salary

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'Amassed 119 Times More Than His Last Salary': Probe Agency On Ex-Bureaucrat

Ramesh Abhishek has been facing multiple cases by various agencies.

New Delhi:

A Bihar cadre IAS officer got crores in consulting fees from more than a dozen companies after his retirement with whom he had official dealings while he was in service. The man is facing a multi-agency probe which includes the Enforcement Directorate and CBI.

The CBI on Tuesday searched the premises of former Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary Ramesh Abhishek after registering an FIR against him for amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. “He was charging big amounts as consulting and professional fees from various entities and organisations with whom he had dealings while he was a secretary DPIIT or chairman of Forward Market Commission,” states the FIR registered by the CBI.

As per the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Mr Abhishek filed an affidavit before Lokpal in which he mentioned that he got Rs 2.7 crore fees in 15 months post-retirement which was “119 times higher than his last drawn government salary” which was Rs 2.26 lakhs.

“Probe so far by various agencies reveals that he gave favour to at least 16 companies while he was posted in the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade as a secretary,” a senior CBI official explains.

The FIR further adds that a house in Delhi’s posh Greater Kailash area was the outcome of a doubtful sudden rise in earlier investments of the family in immovable properties.

Ramesh Abhishek was posted as DPIIT secretary from February 22 to July 2019. And before that, from September 21 to July 2019, he was posted as chairman of the Forward Market Commission.

He retired from DPIIT (erstwhile Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion) and private companies in various capacities in 2019.

Mr Abhishek is also one of the three independent directors at Paytm that is presently facing scrutiny by RBI.

“An independent director plays a crucial role in providing oversight, guidance and independent judgement to ensure it works in the interest of stakeholders while complying with laws of the land,” explains an official.

As per sources, while posted as a secretary, Mr Abhishek allegedly helped parent company One 97 Communications to come out with an IPO.

He was also associated with formulating policies aimed at promoting Industrial growth and also with the ease of doing business. “While in service, he was also instrumental in implementing initiatives of Make In India, Start-Up India and liberalisation of FDI to attract business,” explains an official.

Mr Abhishek has been facing multiple cases by various agencies. Many cases are still in various courts as he has been contesting the claims.

But problems became severe for Ramesh Abhishek when Lokpal, in an order dated February 2, 2022, held that corruption charges needed to be probed thoroughly. “In view of the facts and circumstances, we cannot be a mute spectator to these allegations relating to corruption which should be dealt with strictly. More so when substantial parts of information furnished by the complainant have been admitted by the public servant [respondent] in his affidavits. We, therefore, refer the matter to the ED along with all papers relating to this complaint,” it said.

Directing necessary legal action, it had asked the ED to determine the value of Greater Kailash property. “The ED should also enquire whether there was any conflict of interest in terms of remuneration received by the public servant [respondent] and/or his relatives. During this enquiry, it may also be ascertained whether the public servant [respondent] was required to inform relevant authority, the cost of redevelopment of the property bought by him in GK-II and whether the appropriate authority was informed or not,” it said.

Based on the initial ED report, the Lokpal had on January 3, 2023, directed the agency for further investigation. Mr Abhishek had challenged the orders in the Delhi High Court, which in May 2023 refused to interfere with the Lokpal proceedings.

The Lokpal, in December last year, had referred this matter to CBI and after the initial probe on February 15 this year, they registered a case of disproportionate assets.

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