R14-cr paid in diamond jewellery to bigwigs’ wives from Bihar’s Srijan scam funds!
Sleuths probing the estimated Rs 1,300-crore scam involving fraudulent transfer of government funds to the accounts of NGO, Srijan, have found evidence of RTGS pay offs to jewellers in Patna, Lucknow and New Delhi.india Updated: Sep 02, 2017 19:07 IST
A host of wives of bureaucrats and politicians benefited from the government funds transferred fraudulently to the account(s) of the NGO, Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Limited, between 2007 and 2017 at Bhagalpur, about 300 km east of state capital, Patna.
Records with sleuths of the special investigative team (SIT), set up by the Bihar Police to investigate the scam on orders of chief minister Nitish Kumar, on August 9, show Rs 14 crore worth of diamond jewellery was bought directly with Srijan money and given to wives and children of bureaucrats and politicians.
The sleuths have found evidence of RTGS pay offs from Srijan to jewellers in Patna, Lucknow and New Delhi for the diamonds.
It was found Jalan Gems and Jewellery store on Fraser Road, Patna, was paid a total of Rs 7 crore from three separate Indian Bank accounts of Bhagalpur in the name of Srijan.
Investigators said, of this amount, Rs 49 lakh was paid on March 3, 2015, Rs 25 lakh on March 6 and Rs 40 lakh on March 9, 2015. More payments were made on other dates.
Rekha Modi, a social activist, was directly identified as a beneficiary by the owner of the jewellery store whom the investigators approached for details. The RJD claimed she was related to Bihar finance minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
However, Modi said, “I have no connection whatsoever with Rekha Modi and the talk of her being related to me has no basis”.
The sleuths also found that Rs 5 crore had been paid to Rajesh Craft Jewellery, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi through RTGS transfer over two years. This was just the tip of the iceberg, investigators said.
Sleuths showed purchase order via RTGS for Rs 22 lakh paid on February 16, 2015 for diamonds sold by the outlet, for which documents have been seized.
Another jeweller, identified as Agrawal Jewellers, Lucknow has also been found to be a beneficiary of total Rs 2 crore paid by Srijan on behalf of its clients. Documents for payments of Rs 11 lakh on December 19, 2011 is now with the sleuths.
Sources in the CBI, which took over the case from the Bhagalpur police last Saturday, said, “It has been confirmed that payments had been made through Indian Bank branch at Bhagalpur. It seems, the beneficiaries, who had selected the items were just required to go and collect them, once the payment was made through RTGS by Srijan”.
They said the CBI would now examine CCTV footage of the week in which the purchases were made to establish the identity of the beneficiaries of Srijan scam. “We will quiz the shopkeepers for details on the customers served”, said an officer.
The Srijan scam has turned out to be a major embarrassment for the present Nitish Kumar led NDA government, with investigations now suggesting that the scam could reach massive proportions and involve other districts, besides Bhagalpur.
So far, it is estimated, that Rs 1300 crore was transferred fraudulently from district project accounts to the Srijan accounts by way of collusion of bureaucrats, politicians, commissionary staff, bankers and Srijan staff led by its late founder Manorama Devi.
The modus operandi was to create fake e-statements and siphon of the money, while generating e-cheques and paying off to bank accounts held by Srijan, or transferring them to a private bank operated by the NGO. The money thus garnered went to build malls and buy real estate and feting those in power at district and state level.
The scam was detected, when three separates cheques, worth Rs 370 crore, seemingly issued by urban development, land acquisition and Bhagalpur district magistrate bounced on July 7 and July 8 and inquiries pointed out that the signature of the DM had been faked.