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Court denies bail to wheat scam accused

Posted Oct 08 2008 10:28am

A city court on Tuesday refused bail to a senior official of State Trading Corporation (STC) HR Sardana, who is accused of irregularities in the import of wheat from Australia in 1998.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Vinod Goel refused to grant bail to Sardana, stating that his company was the main beneficiary in the import of wheat.

Sardana in his bail plea stated that one of the accused SM Dewan, Chief Managing Director of the company, had already got bail from the Delhi High Court so he should also be granted bail on the same grounds.

Both were arrested July 9 by the CBI.

The CBI had found that the two had acquired properties and assets, including 14 immovable properties worth millions of rupees in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

Dewan and other officials were allegedly involved in the award of contract to the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) and played a crucial role in the deal.

The CBI registered a case in September 2001 following allegations that the decision to import 2 million tonnes of wheat from AWB was taken even though the stock position of wheat was comfortable in 1998.

The other bidders were rejected allegedly on frivolous grounds and the contract was awarded to AWB at an exorbitant price.

During the probe, a letter rogatory (LR) was sent to Australian authorities seeking information on certain vital aspects, like the involvement of middlemen in the contract and the payment of commission, if any, in the deal.

The CBI filed the closure report in the case in January 2004 because the Australian authorities did not provide the required information.

However, a subsequent inquiry by the Australian government on the conduct of its companies involved in the United Nations Oil for Food Programme for Iraq revealed that the AWB paid commission in the sale of wheat to India in 1998.
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