ED to check if farmers were looted; says no summons to NCP chief
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is checking if farmers’ money was siphoned off in the alleged multi-crore Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank fraud case, sources said on Wednesday.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said he would visit the ED office on Friday, after his name surfaced in the case along with his nephew Ajit Pawar and several others. According to ED sources, however, they have not received any intimation on Pawar’s visit. “We have not called him [Sharad Pawar],” said a high-ranking ED officer, adding the agency has not been informed and they will decide the course of action on Friday. “Nobody has been summoned yet,” he said.
The case pertains to thousands of crores obtained in loans by co-operative sugar factories (CSFs), spinning mills and other processing units from district and cooperative banks. It is alleged that top executives and office-bearers were given loans in a fraudulent manner.
The complainant in the case, activist Surinder Mohan Arora, 57, an Andheri resident, sought action against political leaders and bank officials on the basis of a 2011 National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) inspection report and reports of inquiry under provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960. Both reports had disclosed rampant malpractices in loans disbursed by MSC Bank and consequent loss of crores of rupees.
The agency said it would probe the money laundering aspect of the fraud and check if there was any fund diversion – where the money is used for purposes other than for which it is given.
“Our investigation depends on the NABARD audit report. A probe will be conducted to check if the loan money has been diverted and who the end beneficiaries are. We are investigating if farmers’ money has been siphoned off,” said the officer.
The officer said the tenure of the scam may increase.
The complainant alleged, “The fraud committed by directors of MSCB is not comparable to any other scam which has only economic repercussions, rather this is a social scam which has broken the backbone of Maharashtrian agro-economy and increased the social chasms to the extreme.”
“Having destroyed the only source of livelihood of nearly 70 percent of the state population, the rural economy was crushed and the farmers were driven to extreme measures of committing suicide or problems of alcoholism and mass migration to cities. The magnitude of the scam is to be understood not only in terms of the economic scale but rather in terms of utter destruction of lives of millions of people that it has caused and dragged the state nearly 20 years behind its development stage,” he said.