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Home Ministry denies Patil, Abhishek Verma meeting

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 22 (UNI) The Home Ministry today denied media reports that Mr Shivraj Patil had met controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma on February 15.

The Ministry, in a statement, said the reports were factually incorrect.

''No such meeting took place between the Home Minister and Mr Verma on February 15 in North Block,'' it said.

The media report said Mr Patil had a 45-minute meeting with Mr Verma, who has allegedly taken kickbacks in the recently concluded Rs 13,000 crore purchase of Scorpene submarines.

Mr Verma, the flamboyant son of a Congress leader, has faced several criminal cases in the past, the report said.

The Defence Ministry on Saturday referred the Naval ''War Room leak'' case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The decision to order the CBI probe was taken in the wake of a series of articles by a news magazine linking the leak to the deal and to navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash.

The Navy had dismissed three officers, including one of the directors of naval operations, for passing on sensitive information to retired naval officers who were middlemen for various arms firms.

The magazine also claimed that Mr Verma is a friend of the nephew of the Navy chief's wife, who figured in the investigations into the War Room leak.

UNI NR RL VC1416

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