Some nationalised banks have been found to be in league with middlemen and the Uttar Pradesh government officials in opening and running fake accounts to support a public distribution swindle, a CBI investigation says.
Confirming an FIR against a nationalised bank in Bareilly, CBI sources told Hindustan Times on Sunday records were being scrutinised to assess the banks’ involvement in the scam. Initial investigation reportedly showed fake bank accounts were opened because of a stipulation of the UP government that payment had to be by cheque and no middlemen could be allowed distribute beyond certain amounts.
“It is shocking to know that nationalised banks colluded with middlemen in the racket,” a CBI officer said.
The CBI also said the same group of middlemen in each district was involved in the procurement and distribution malpractices.
In each district, R4-5 crore has been defalcated.
During raids at a procurement centre in Bareilly on February 18, the CBI collected 60 samples of sub-standard rice, which have been sent for testing.
In another case, it has been found low-weight gunny bags were used to store grains. As against 750-gm gunny bags approved by Food Corporation of India, the procurement centres were using 540-gm bags in Bareilly.
“We are checking the extent of this phenomenon in other centres also,” a CBI officer said.
“It was a well-knit illegal operation involving senior officers of the state and central governments,” the officer said here. First they purchased foodgrain directly from farmers at low prices and then sold it to state purchase centres at the support price, which is higher. On the distribution front, they picked up foodgrain from warehouses on fake documents and disposed of the commodity either in black or smuggled it to Nepal and Bangladesh.
The CBI, which had conducted the probe in Lakhimpur and Sitapur, has on Allahabad high court orders now taken up similar cases in Gonda, Varanasi and Lucknow.
Before the cases were handed over to the CBI, the economic offences wing (EOW) and special investigation team (SIT) investigated the matter.