The eight officers of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India and leading bank arrested in the bribes-for-loans scam were granted bail by the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday.
Judge SP Tavade granted the bail on a surety of Rs 2 lakh for each of the accused.
The CBI had arrested Ramchandran Nair, CEO of LIC Finance; Naresh Chopra, secretary (investment), LIC; RN Tayal, general manager, Bank of India; Maninder Singh Johar, director, Bank of India; Venkoba Gujjal, deputy general manager, Punjab National Bank; Rajesh Sharma, chairman and managing director of Money Matters, and his two employees Suresh Gattani and Sanjay Sharma on November 24 for their alleged involvement in the racket.
The CBI had alleged that large loans were sanctioned for corporations in return for bribes to top LIC and bank officers, with Money Matters acting as the go between.
However, as soon as they got bail, the CBI arrested all three Money Matters executives again in connection with another first information report (FIR). The CBI had registered five FIRs in all.
The trio would be produced before the special court on Saturday and the CBI is likely to seek their fresh custody.
The CBI told the court on Friday that it was difficult to gauge the extent of the scam and that they needed the accused’s custody as all the data was in digital form. The court, however, remanded them in judicial custody till December 16.
The defence lawyers argued that the CBI had made no progress in its investigation since the last remand and had not given any concrete reason to seek the accused’s remand.
They added that the nature of evidence was such that it could not be tampered with.
The CBI said it had found Gattani’s diary, which detailed various transactions that are under investigation. It added that all the accused were “habitual offenders” and that they might tamper with the evidence if let off.
Defence lawyer Harshad Ponda, however, contended that neither the banks nor LIC had suffered any loss.
He argued that “all that that Rajesh Sharma did was apply for a loan, which is not a crime”.
Defence lawyers said that the CBI had already collected the relevant documents from the beneficiaries and raided the accused’s houses, so there was no need for further custody.
The court, accepting the defence arguments, ordered the accused not to leave the country.