A financial scam of unprecedented proportions hit West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (WBIDFC), a public sector undertaking, leaving it bereft of Rs. 83 crore at a time when the present government also faces acute financial constraints.
On Wednesday, WBIDFC management filed an FIR at Kolkata Police head-quarters at Lalbazar. A worried WBIDFC chairman Abhirup Sarkar told Hindustan Times, "I spoke to the home secretary, finance secretary and commissioner of police (CP) soon after I was informed of the scam on Tuesday. The CP advised me to stay in touch with the joint commissioner of police (Crime)."
Sarkar, also an economist, learnt of the forgery after Bank of India contacted his company, seeking information about two fixed deposit cheques with Rs. 59 and Rs. 61 crore that were transferred the their account in UCO Bank's Circus Avenue branch in August, 2012 and January this year.
"Around Rs. 83 crore has been withdrawn. The remaining amount, Rs. 37 crore, will be returned to us," Sarkar said.
The scam was uncovered after central investigating agency CBI started an inquiry at UCO Bank's Circus Avenue branch. Following the investigation, CBI contacted Bank of India to find out whether the latter had sent the two cheques to the account WBIDFC account in UCO Bank.
After that Bank of India contacted WBIDFC asking about the cheques.
"After verifying the documents, we found that the UCO Bank has sent us receipts against the fixed deposit transfer. However, the receipts weren't original, probably forged by a racket, which may have opened a fake account at the UCO Bank branch where the amounts were deposited. The entire operation was done by experts; employees of the UCO bank may even be involved," Sarkar said.
WBIDFC was formed in 1997 during the Left Front's tenure in order to develop industrial infrastructure in that state.
WBIDFC played an important role in setting up thermal power projects in Raghunathpur, Information Technology sector in Rajarhat and the Institute of Neuro Science at Park Street by providing loans.