The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against IRS officer Santosh Karnani, then Additional Commissioner of Income-Tax (Central Range-1), who is accused of taking a Rs 30-lakh bribe from Ahmedabad builder Safal Construction Pvt Ltd. The chargesheet also names then Assistant Commissioner of Income-Tax, Ahmedabad, Vivek Johri, for allegedly helping Karnani. The CBI has said in the chargesheet that Johri facilitated Karnani’s escape from his office by helping, creating a ruckus during trap proceedings by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). The chargesheet names one more person in the case. Karnani and Johri were subsequently arrested and are in judicial custody.
Johri is accused of trying to destroy evidence by allegedly throwing two of Karnani’s mobile phones into the Sabarmati River on his directions.
The case goes back to an Income-Tax Department raid at the office of the B Safal Group in September 2021, led by the I-T investigation wing. A complaint before ACB by B Safal Group owner Rupesh Brahmbhatt states that the searches went on for nearly seven days at his office and home during which papers were seized by the raiding teams and an appraisal memo was submitted to the I-T’s Central Circle Range-1 at the Aaykar Bhavan on Ashram Road.
The builder said that Karnani “repeatedly threatened to cause us huge financial and business losses and asked us illegally for money” to manipulate the appraisal report in order not to cause them any damage.
He alleged that Karnani made a WhatsApp call to him on September 29, 2022 and called him to the I-T office on October 3, 2022, and when Brahmbhatt went to meet him, Karnani asked him for Rs 30 lakh to “help” him in the case against him.