New Delhi: CBI is checking into claims made by an insurance agent about depositing Rs five crore in a bank account in the name of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his family as the agency geared up its probe into alleged payments to the tune of Rs 2.8 crore to a person with the initials 'VBS'.
Having registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against unknown persons last year after receiving a complaint from the State Trading Corporation, the CBI recently recorded the statement of an insurance agent who is said to have deposited Rs five crore in the bank account of Singh and his family towards buying life insurance policies.
Singh was in the eye of a storm last year after Income Tax department recovered internal papers of Mumbai-based ISPAT Industries Limited in 2010 which had entries like 'VBS' and 'APS to MoS'.
There were four entries made to the listed beneficiary -- 'VBS'--which totalled up to 2.8 crores from October, 2009 to October, 2010. Singh, who has outright denied all the allegations of payoff, was Steel Minister from May 28, 2009 to 18 January, 2011.
According to the CBI sources, Singh had filed Income Tax returns for three years -- 2007-08 to 2009-10 -- of Rs 40 lakh each every year. This was later revised by him to Rs 1.5 crore per annum for all the financial years stating that he had included his income from his apple orchards.
During investigations, the CBI claimed to have found that the money was deposited by an LIC agent Anand Chouhan for LIC policies. He was summoned to the CBI for examination recently, the sources said.
In his statement, the LIC agent allegedly claimed that he had been instructed to sell the apple orchards and deposit the money in the account of Singh and his family.
The statement was being further cross checked before taking a decision on whether to summon the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister.
The CBI's probe was earlier to identify government officials who were allegedly shown as beneficiaries in the seized documents. There were entries that showed payments were made to the Coal Ministry, State Trading Corporation and MSTC.
However, after the 'VBS' controversy gained momentum, the CBI incorporated it in the same PE registered last year.
BJP has virtually launched a campaign against Singh. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley claimed Singh's involvement in various scams in 2002 and during his tenure as Chief Minister.
Updated Date: Dec 30, 2013 20:20 PM