Punwire multi-crore scam: Three officials of erstwhile firm sentenced to two-year jail

Established in 1975, Punwire, a firm with expertise in wireless communication technology, had remained a profit-making company for over 20 years, and had shot to fame after setting up a communication link between Dakshin Gangotri (Antarctica) and New Delhi. Its operations had come to a grinding halt in 1999 after the scam was unearthed.
In July 2000, Punwire was locked for liquidation and in February 2001, the final orders for winding up were passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court. (Shutterstock)
In July 2000, Punwire was locked for liquidation and in February 2001, the final orders for winding up were passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Nov 30, 2021 02:23 AM IST
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By, Mohali

In the two-decade old Punjab Wireless Limited (Punwire) multi-crore scam, a special judicial magistrate of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Mohali, sentenced three former employees of the firm to two-year rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine of 7,000 each.

They have been identified as former Punwire executive director Ved Prakash, former assistant general manager Ashok Jerath and former statutory auditor NK Bhambri.

Established in 1975, Punwire, a firm with expertise in wireless communication technology, had remained a profit-making company for over 20 years, and had shot to fame after setting up a communication link between Dakshin Gangotri (Antarctica) and New Delhi. Its operations had come to a grinding halt in 1999 after the scam was unearthed. In July 2000, it was locked for liquidation and in February 2001, the final orders for winding up were passed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.

In October 2002, acting on the directions of the Supreme Court, the CBI had registered the instant on the allegations of large-scale embezzlement of funds in the firm. Accordingly, the CBI took over 20 FIRs of Mohali police station for investigation. The present case was a reproduction of an FIR registered in 2001, earlier registered at Mohali police station. It was alleged in the said FIR that Punwire had gone into liquidation because of large-scale cheating and embezzlement of funds by its own officials and also because of mismanagement in the company.

It was further alleged that executive director Ved Prakash, who was authorised to issue cheques up to the limit of 2 lakh only, had issued cheques beyond the said limit to creditors. The credit amount had run into around 132.5 crore.

It was stated that the trio were fully aware of the precarious financial condition of the company at the time of issuing the cheques and the act put the company under huge financial liability and multifarious litigations due to instances of cheque bounce.

After investigation, a chargesheet was filed on August 29, 2008 and the charges were framed on November 18, 2010. The trial court found them guilty.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022