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Balakrishna Pillai & PC George make damning allegations against Mani Balakrishna Pillai & PC George make damning allegations against Mani

Jan-20-2015 | 0 Comments

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The odds seemed to be stacking up against finance minister K M Mani in the bar bribery case after Biju Ramesh, working president of Bar Hotel Owners' Association, on Monday released audio tapes where two senior politicians divulge incriminating details.

Ramesh released two audio clips to the media which contained conversations between him and government chief whip PC George and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai.

Pillai, in his phone conversation with Ramesh, says that he had specifically told chief minister Oommen Chandy about the bribe paid to Mani to influence the decision on reopening closed bars in the state. Pillai goes on to say that Mani had demanded, and been paid, bribes amounting to several crores from associations representing rice mill owners, gold merchants and bakery owners for various favours.

Ramesh said that he was forced to leak the tapes after George on Sunday denied that he had ever asked Ramesh to meet him to discuss the bar issue. In the released telephone conversation, George is indeed heard saying that he wanted to meet Ramesh. In another remark which casts doubts on his stated loyalty to Mani, George tells Ramesh that he would make public statements supporting Mani that needn't be taken seriously.

Mani dismissed the fresh allegations in the tapes. Speaking to reporters in Pala, he said that it was common knowledge that he and Pillai were not in the best of terms. "I am surprised that he said only this much." Regarding George's purported remarks, Mani said that George himself had explained the context to him. Mani also pointed out that Chandy had denied Pillai's allegations.

Ramesh claimed that Monday's audio tapes were just the tip of the iceberg and that he would hand over all proof, including conversations between bar association members regarding handing over the bribe, to vigilance officials. "I have with me the recording of telephone calls between several leaders, including KM Mani. I will hand over those to investigators at the apt time", he said. He said he would release Mani's voice record only as a last resort in order to guarantee his own protection.

On Monday, Ramesh could not hand over any evidence to vigilance special unit SP who is probing the case as he was out of office. Sources said Ramesh tried to meet vigilance director Vinson M Paul but was directed to meet the investigating officer and hand over the proof to him.


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