Friday, April 5, 2024

Sameer Wankhede Skip CBI Questioning in Aryan Khan Bribery Case

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Former NCB officer Sameer Wankhede did not appear for questioning before the CBI on Thursday in connection with a case of alleged demand of Rs 25-crore bribe from superstar Shah Rukh Khan, officials said.

Sameer Wankhede

It is alleged that Wankhede and others demanded the bribe to not implicate his son Aryan Khan in the 2021 Cordelia cruise ship drug bust case. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) did not name Aryan Khan in its charge sheet in the case because of lack of evidence against him.

Sameer Wankhede had offered to appear before the agency on Thursday after an FIR was registered against him and four others for allegedly trying to extort the bribe from Shah Rukh Khan on the basis of a NCB inquiry referred to it by the home ministry, sources said.

They said Wankhede did not appear for questioning on Thursday and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will decide on the future course of action.

The officials said a special enquiry team (SET) of the NCB had red-flagged several lapses and irregularities in the operation on the cruise ship conducted under the “monitoring” of Sameer Wankhede.

The NCB had alleged K P Gosavi and his aide Prabhakar Sail, now deceased, were included as independent witnesses in the cruise ship raid on October 2, 2021, on the directions of Wankhede.

Gosavi, his aide Sanvile D’Souza and others had entered into the conspiracy to “extort of Rs 25 crore” from aryan’s family members by “threatening them of the accusation of offences of possession of narcotics substances”, the FIR in the case stated.

In order to let him walk free, Gosavi and D’Souza negotiated the amount bringing it down to Rs 18 crore and even collected a token of Rs 50 lakh and returned a part of the amount later, it said.

Aryan Khan, who was formally arrested by the NCB on October 3, 2021, after the raid on the cruise ship a day before, was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on October 28 after he had spent 25 days in jail. But his name was not included in the list of accused in the NCB charge sheet for lack of evidence.

The SET in its findings, now part of the FIR, said Aryan Khan and other suspects were brought to the NCB office in Gosavi’s private vehicle on October 2, 2021.

Wankhede, in the capacity of the immediate supervisory officer, had directed to take Gosavi and Sail as independent witnesses in the proceedings against the accused in the drug bust case, the FIR said.

He had directed then NCB superintendent V V Singh to let Gosavi “handle the accused” while taking him to the NCB office, thereby “allowing a freehand” to him and others in order to create a visual impression that Gosavi had the custody of the accused, it said.

“It appeared that the presence of the independent witness Gosavi around accused persons was created intentionally in such a manner so as to give an impression that Gosavi was an NCB personnel even though there were NCB personnel to handle the custody of the accused persons,” the FIR said.

Gosavi was allowed to be present in the company of the accused persons, allowed to come to the NCB office after the raid, and took the freedom to click selfies and recorded the voice note of an accused, it said.

This position “allowed” Gosavi and D’Souza to enter into the “conspiracy” with others to allegedly demand the bribe from Shah Rukh Khan, according to officials.

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