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Probe report mentions Sameer Wankhede's Rolex watch, properties

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
May 19, 2023 18:09 IST
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A Narcotics Control Bureau special enquiry team set up to probe the role of its former Mumbai zone chief Sameer Wankhede, who initially investigated the controversial drugs-on-cruise case involving superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son, has found a number of alleged service rule violations by him including mis-reporting of foreign travel expenses and transactions in luxury watches.

IMAGE: Former Narcotics Control Bureau Mumbai Zonal director Sameer Wankhede. Photograph: PTI Photo

The SET's findings have now been taken on record by the Central Bureau of Investigation which recently raided the 2008-batch Indian Revenue Service officer after it filed an FIR against him for corruption and alleged violation of rules in the raids that took place at the Cordelia cruise berthed at the Mumbai coast on October 2, 2021.


Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan, who was arrested and spent about a month in jail, has been exonerated from this case by the Narcotics Control Bureau last year after a special investigation team of the agency probed the raids afresh and said there was no evidence of wrongdoing against him.

The SET, in its report submitted to the central administrative tribunal last year, found irregularities against the 44-year-old Wankhede and his team on mainly two counts -- alleged irregularities in the conduct of the drugs-on-cruise raids and violations under the Central Civil Services Rules.

Wankhede has denied these allegations and had approached the CAT and recently the Bombay high court to quash the CBI FIR against him saying the SET chief -- NCB deputy director general Gyaneshwar Singh -- was "acting as judge of his own cause and conduct" as he was his reporting boss during the case in question.

Gyaneshwar Singh, a 1999-batch IPS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre, told the CAT that there was no "biasness" in his enquiry against Wankhede as the probe was initiated by the NCB headquarters on the basis of an affidavit filed by a deceased witness in this case, Prabhakar Sail.

Sail, a body guard of another witness K P Gosavi, had claimed that there were procedural lapses in this case and he heard Gosavi making a bribe demand of Rs 25 crore from Shah Rukh Khan for letting off his son from rigourous procedures of the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. 

The SET report said Wankhede "in a span of about 5 years from 2017-21 made six private foreign visits with family to the UK, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Maldives spanning over 55 days of foreign stay with declared amount of Rs 8.75 lakh only which barely can cover cost of air travel."

It alleged that the IRS officer and his friend Viral Jamaluddin Rajan "stayed in Taj Exotica Maldives Beach suits with their families and maid in July 2021 on credit basis/cash payments (about Rs 7.5 lakh for Sameer's family)."

"They paid the amount to the hotel only on 18-12-2021 through credit card of Viral when the SET started the enquiry and there is non-intimation/mis-reporting hence CCS conduct rule violation has been reported to his parent department for further action," the report said.

It said Wankhede purchased a Rolex Gold watch, which has MRP of Rs 22.05 lakh for Rs 17.40 lakh only "on credit" from Rajan.

"There are multiple invoices/quoted of Rolex watch. There is non-intimation/mis-reporting hence CCS Conduct Rule violation...," it said.

The SET said "facts also emerged regarding mis-declarations of his foreign visits and his unexplained expenditure regarding expensive watches".

"The enquiry revealed that Sameer Wankhede visited abroad several times on private trips and details of his previous visits have been mis-declared in the prescribed pro-forma. The stay during these trips is also not known," it alleged.

The SET found that the "expenses of these declared private visits to countries have apparently been under-reported by Sameer Wankhede."

"In all the visits expenditure declared by him is in between Rs 1-2.5 lakh which is clearly wrong declaration/under-reporting," it said.

Making a specific mention of a UK visit of Wankhede, the SET said the 19-day-long visit to London "for tourism purpose cannot be justified with declared Rs 1 lakh expense."

It said another "dubious" transaction pertains to the sale of four watches for men by Wankhede to Rajan for Rs 7.40 lakh through cheque and this cheque was in favour of his wife.

"The mode of acquisition of these expensive watches is questionable. No reporting of these watches has been made," it said.

The SET said Rajan, who deals in watches, is "coincidentally the same person who financed/loaned for Wankhede's personal trip with family."

It said the acquisition and furnishing of his properties needs "deeper scrutiny" as these may be disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The SET also said that there were "lapses" in the custody of Aryan Khan and his friend Arbaz Merchant, who where arrested by the NCB Mumbai team after raid on the cruise.

"The statements of the witnesses established that Aryan Khan and Arbaz Merchant were brought to the NCB office in a private vehicle of K P Gosavi (an independent witness in this case who has been made an accused by the CBI in its FIR) instead of office car."

"The series of lapses one after the other in the custody of Aryan Khan is a proof of the fact that the custody of Aryan Khan was compromised in an intentional manner to give an opportunity to Gosavi," the SET said.

It also said that the CCTV footage of the NCB Mumbai office on the days of this case had "gone corrupt" when the SET went to collect it and the DVR and hard disc provided to it by this office were "different".

"It appears from the action of the zone (Mumbai NCB) that the CCTV footage did have something important and the same was intentionally not provided to the SET," it said.

The special team report also said at least two people were given a "clean chit" despite they having role in this case.

The SET informed the CAT that it has acted upon a total of seven of its Mumbai zone officials involved in this case along with Wankhede, who was repatriated to his parent department of the directorate of revenue intelligence. 

The SET concluded by saying that the irregularities found "are a wrong committed by the applicant (Wankhede) and his team which constitutes an abuse of his position as a zonal director."

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.