BENGALURU: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has given a clean chit to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Hublot watch case by closing the inquiry at the preliminary stage itself.
Siddaramaiah established the ACB, disbanding the Lokayukta police wing, on March 14, 2016, exactly a year ago.
Senior officials in ACB told Express that three petitions were filed separately by advocate Nataraja Sharma, RTI activists Ramamurthy Gowda and T J Abraham seeking probe into the diamond-studded watch worth Rs 70 lakh worn by the Chief Minister.
“After receiving the petitions, we conducted a preliminary inquiry into all three petitions and closed the inquiry recently after recording the statement of Dubai-based CM’s friend Dr Girish Chandra Varma. He deposed in response to a notice issued to him,” ACB sources said.
Besides providing records to show that the watch belonged to him, in his statement before ACB, “Varma said that Siddaramaiah appreciated his Hublot watch when he met him, and he gifted it to him despite Siddaramaiah refusing,” an official in ACB said on the condition of anonymity.
It was JD(S) president H D Kumaraswamy who raised the issue first and questioned how Siddaramaiah who calls himself a socialist could afford a watch worth lakhs. In response, Siddaramaiah offered to sell the watch for Rs 5 lakh to him and later admitted that it was gifted by Varma.
After opposition leaders raised objections and later stalled legislature proceedings over the issue, Siddaramaiah declared the watch a state asset and handed it over to the Speaker’s office.