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HC questions EOW's lack of financial experts

mumbai Updated: Jan 10, 2012 01:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The Bombay high court on Monday was amused to notice that the independent branch of the Mumbai police, which probes cases related to economic offences, did not have officers who are well versed in commerce.

The court was hearing a case regarding the progress of investigation in a Rs 60 crore alleged bank fraud by its former directors in connivance with some borrowers.

A petition was filed by the Co-operative Bank Employees Union seeking recovery of money and action against the culprits through arrest and attachment of properties.

The court had last month pulled up the Economic Offences Wing for not taking appropriate action in the case that has affected around 16,000 investors.

Public prosecutor PA Pol informed the court on Monday that out of the 17 former directors of the Veerashaiva Co-operative Bank, six have been arrested while three of them have expired.

One director has secured anticipatory bail while another director is abroad, the court was told.

Pol added that seven out of 24 borrowers have also been arrested and the accounts of all the arrested persons have been frozen.

On court's query, Pol said that about seven crores have been traced from the arrested persons.

"What about the remaining 53 crores?" a division bench of justice A M Khanwilkar and justice Rajesh Ketkar asked.

The judges went on to ask as to why the agency was not arresting the remaining directors and borrowers as well as freezing their accounts and attaching their properties.

After the investigating officer was posed with further probing by the court regarding the accounts to which the officer did not have proper statistics, the judges asked as to whether he was a commerce graduate.

"Why are you taking so long to scrutinise the accounts?" the court asked.

Being an independent branch (that probes economic offences) gives all the more reason to have someone with knowledge of accounts, justice Khanwilkar said.

The court finally suggested that the agency should take some assistance from a banker.

Pol tried to justify it by saying that the agency is already over burdened.

Meanwhile, the court was told that the FIR has named 19 directors and not 17 as stated by the state.

The court has directed Pol to file a detailed report in this regard by January 17, indicating the reasons for not arresting the remaining directors and borrowers, accounts under scrutiny, status on freezing of further accounts and attachment of property.

According to the petition, the Reserve Bank of India had conducted an inspection in which various illegalities were found after which an inquiry was initiated.