Senior assistant who handled funds provided to the university used to create and submit bogus bills in the name of fake research scholars and assistants to siphon off money. (HT File Photo)
Senior assistant who handled funds provided to the university used to create and submit bogus bills in the name of fake research scholars and assistants to siphon off money. (HT File Photo)

Fake billing scam: Punjabi varsity staff asked to record formal statements

The varsity has already suspended two of its employees for their alleged involvement in the scam and lodged a complaint against eight staffers with SSP Sandeep Garg, who has directed DSP Sourav Jindal to investigate the matter
By Navrajdeep Singh, Patiala
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2021 01:18 AM IST

Patiala police have asked Punjabi University officials and employees to record their formal statements in the fake billing scam wherein the varsity has already sought registration of a first information report (FIR).

The varsity has already suspended two of its employees for their alleged involvement in the scam and lodged a complaint against eight staffers with the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sandeep Garg, who has directed DSP Sourav Jindal to investigate the matter.

The police have also asked the varsity to submit its records, including a three-member fact-finding committee’s report, which found substantial evidence of embezzlement of funds.

In May, the cash-strapped university’s internal audit department and finance wing had red-flagged five bills amounting to 6 lakh.

The stamp and signatures of the department head were found to be fake and the names of research scholars and assistants against whom the bills were raised turned out to be bogus.

The committee, comprising registrar Varinder Kaushik, dean (research) Ashok Tiwari and finance officer Rakesh Khurana, probed the bank accounts of the senior assistant and others involved. The help of the university’s forensic department was taken to investigate the fake signatures and stamps.

DSP Jindal said the preliminary report in the matter will shortly be submitted as the varsity has asked to furnish records pertaining to the matter.

“The statements of three-member committee will be recorded. Moreover, those against whom the complaint is filed have also been asked to submit their statement so that preliminary report could be prepared,” he added.

DSP Jindal said on the basis of their statements and findings of the preliminary investigation, further criminal action could be suggested.

According to the varsity report, the senior assistant — who handled funds provided to the university under various heads and was posted in the same department for over a decade — used to create and submit bogus bills in the name of fake research scholars and assistants to siphon off money.

The funds included those provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for development schemes, non-UGC grant for research projects and scholarships given by the Union ministry of education besides those received under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan. It has been learnt that the embezzlement went unchecked for six years.

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