The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday claimed to have busted a racket of the government-run Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) officials and businessmen who allegedly managed to siphon off Rs 321 crore of public money to a Hong Kong-based company using fake guarantee issued by the bank.
The agency carried out searches at 14 locations in Chandigarh, Panchkula, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Zirakpur (Punjab) of 11 people and companies against whom a case has been registered by it, CBI sources said. They alleged that the mastermind of the conspiracy is Ashu Mehra, an assistant manager with the bank, who helped a company get Letters of Comfort -- a kind of guarantee -- from the bank in favour of a Hong Kong-based company which managed to avail credit from Bank of Baroda (BoB), Bahama branch, and Punjab National Bank (PNB), Dubai branch, between 2014 and 2016.
CBI has named in its FIR two more then assistant managers of the Chandigarh branch of the bank -- Nitish Negi and Gaurav Bhatia -- proprietor of Chandigarh-based Vision Procon Dinesh Kumar, owner of Heights International Amanpreet Singh Sodhi, directors of Sai Bhakti Impex Aman Kirpal and Gaurav Kirpal, the company Sai Bhakti Impex, Hong Kong-based Colour Wave (HK) Ltd, and other unknown officials. Sodhi also owns the Hong Kong-based company.
The sources said Mehra not have the power to issue such Letters of Comfort. His father-in-law MS Dullat, a retired army brigadier, has also been named in the FIR. They said officials of BoB and PNB are also under scanner of the agency.
“It was alleged that the accused persons in connivance/criminal conspiracy with the branch officials and with each other siphoned off the bank funds under the garb of Letter of Comforts in favour of the Hong Kong-based company purportedly issued by officials of Indian Overseas Bank, Chandigarh to PNB, Dubai and BoB, Bahamas,” CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said here.
He said based on these fraudulently issued Letters of Comfort, the banks issued buyers’ credit to the account of accused abroad. An alleged loss of around Rs 321 crore was caused to the complainant bank (IOB) and the foreign branches of PNB and BoB, the spokesperson said.