Sameer Wankhede’s foreign visits, expensive watches under CBI scanner

Aryan Khan case

NEW DELHI, May 15:
Foreign visits undertaken by former NCB officer Sameer Wankhede, booked by the CBI over an alleged Rs 25-crore bribe demand from superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s family to spare his son in a drugs case, will be under the scanner of the agency, officials said.
A Narcotics Control Bureau’s Special Enquiry Team (SET) had red-flagged alleged improper explanations and apparent misdeclaration of “the expenditure” given by then NCB Zonal Director Wankhede on his foreign visits.
These findings were referred by the Centre to the CBI which had registered an FIR against the officer and four others on May 11.
“He has also not declared the source of his foreign visits properly. It was also found that Wankhede has indulged himself in sale and purchase of expensive wrist watches with a private entity, Viral Rajan, without intimating the department (present or parent),” the SET said in the findings which are now part of the FIR.
The details of FIR made public on Monday show that independent witness K P Gosavi and one Prabhakar Sail, now deceased, were included by the NCB in the Cordelia cruise ship drug raid on October 2, 2021 on the directions of Wankhede.
Gosavi in conspiracy with his aide Sanvile D’Souza and others had entered into the conspiracy to “extort an amount” of Rs 25 crore from the family members of Aryan, son of Shah Rukh Khan, by “threatening them of the accusation of offences of possession of Narcotics substances”.
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, the FIR alleged.
Aryan Khan, who was formally arrested by the NCB on October 3, 2021 after a raid on the Cordelia 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 a lack of evidence. The SET in its findings, now part of the FIR, said Aryan Khan and other suspects in the Cordelia Ship drugs bust case 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 Prabhakar Sail as the independent witness in the proceedings against the accused in the drug bust case, the FIR states.
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 says.
“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 made public on Monday states.
Violating all norms of independent witness, Gosavi was allowed to be present in the company of the accused persons and even 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.
This position “allowed” Gosavi and D’Souza to enter in the “conspiracy” with others to allegedly demand the bribe from Shah Rukh Khan, they officials said.
Flagging other irregularities, the SET of NCB said the names of certain suspects were dropped from the information note ‘I-Note’ and certain other names of were included subsequently through modification to suit the proceedings.
The initial I-Note contained 27 names and the modified I-Note contained only 10 names, it said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked 2008-batch IRS officer Wankhede and four others — Vishwa Vijay Singh, Intelligence Officer Ashish Ranjan, and two private persons K P Gosavi and Sanvile D’Souza — for alleged criminal conspiracy (120-B IPC), and threat of extortion (388 IPC) besides provisions pertaining to bribery under the Prevention of Corruption Act on a complaint from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Wankhede has since been removed as NCB Zonal Director. (PTI)