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Corruption charges agaist ex-secretary, facing multiple-agency probe

A retired IAS officer is facing a multi-agency probe which includes the Enforcement Directorate and CBI.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) carried out searches at premises of former Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary Ramesh Abhishek in a disproportionate asset case which is an offshoot of a complaint filed against the retired IAS officer with the anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal. "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," as per the FIR registered by the CBI.
Ramesh Abhishek is one of the three independent director of Paytm Payments Bank which is facing the Reserve Bank of India scrutiny on compliance issues. As secretary of the DPIIT, he is alleged to have helped Paytm’s parent company, One 97 Communications, to come out with an IPO. He later came on board of directors of Paytm Payments Bank post his retirement in 2019. The Reserve Bank of India, last month, stopped the Paytm subsidiary from offering services from February 29. The date however has been extended to March 15 to allow customers to do transactions, use wallet, FASTags and other facilities.
Ramesh Abhishek retired in 2019 as secretary of DPIIT and Chairperson of the Forward Markets Commission.The Lokpal reportedly asked the ED to look into the allegations of amassing wealth including valuation of former IAS officer Abhishek’s plush house in Greater Kailash - II. He is alleged to have favoured 16 companies during his stint as Secretary DPIIT and as a quid pro quo sought favours by way of consultancy fees from these companies post retirement. They figured as clients for former senior bureaucrat.
Abhishek, the 1982 batch IAS officer of the Bihar cadre, had reportedly said in an affidavit to Lokpal that his earning as professional fee in 15 months post-retirement was over Rs2.7 crore which was 119 times more that his monthly salary as a government servant that stood at Rs2.26 lakh.Earlier, he had unsuccessfully tried to block Lokpal probe against him but the Delhi High Court allowed the ED to continue with the case. 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.
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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