Maharashtra government gives clean chit to Mumbai Bank directors
The state’s reply in the legislative Assembly led to uproar in the house, as lawmakers alleged the government was shielding the directorsmumbai Updated: Dec 13, 2017 23:39 IST
The state government on Wednesday gave clean chit to politically influential directors of the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (MDCCB), also known as Mumbai bank, in the alleged misappropriation of funds, fixing responsibility on two bank officers by suspending them.
The state’s reply in the legislative Assembly led to uproar in the house, as lawmakers alleged the government was shielding the directors. This compelled the government to concede a fresh inquiry, if any substance was found in ongoing internal inquiry by the bank.
Mumbai legislators Prakash Surve, Amin Patel, Naseem Khan raised the question in the lower house on Wednesday, seeking information on the action into the alleged misappropriation in Kandivli and Ashokvan branches of the bank over the past few years.
The bank was facing charges of distributing loans to relatives of bank chairman and BJP legislator Praveen Darekar with the help of fake documents. According to the sources in the cooperation department, the Kandivli Branch had distributed a loan of Rs2.35 crore, with the help of fake documents and in the name of ineligible loanees, to 55 loan accounts.
Five directors of the bank had demanded a thorough inquiry into the irregularities, while an account-holder had moved National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)—which handles finance to coop banks---requesting inquiry.
Cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh told the house the vigilance committee of the bank found irregularities. Deshmukh said while the bank suspended two officials, contrary to the allegations, no director or his relative was found to be involved in the fraud.
The minister said the MDCCB is one of the best banks in the state with no non-performing assets and improvement in its revenue over few years.
Prakash Surve (Shiv Sena) alleged the government was shielding its legislator. “Loans were disbursed to five relatives of Darekar. NABARD has passed strictures about frauds. There are many other cases of the financial fraud in the allotment of loans by the bank,” he said.
“The Government has brought the facts about the allegations of corruptions on records in the Assembly today. There was no iota of substance in the allegations against me. We had given rights of sanctioning of loans below Rs5 lakh to the branch managers. When found guilty of administrative lapses while disbursing loans, we have initiated action against two of our branch managers. It is absolutely untrue that I compelled the authorities to give loans to my relatives. State cooperation department has given us the grading of A and NABARD has given us B-plus in auditing. How could have they been able to give us such a fantastic grading,” Darekar told HT.
Oppn attacks government over ‘failed’ policies for milk coops
Alleging the government policies related to milk producers were ruining the cooperatives, the Opposition demanded government intervention for the welfare of milk producers.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the government should not look at cooperative bodies with political vendetta, as it has been a major source of strength for farmers during drought. He said although the government was making it mandatory for the unions to pay Rs27 a litre as procurement price to farmers, the unions do not afford such a high price and are compelled to sustain losses.
The state faced embarrassment when speaker of the house Haribhau Bagde, who heads a district cooperative in his constituency, admitted even his milk federation does not give procurement price of more than Rs22 a litre.
Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Vijay Wadettiwar, Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil said the government should give adequate prices to milk producers. Vikhe-Patil told the lower house the state was producing about 2.87-crore litres milk daily -- 80 lakh litres are sold in the open urban market, while milk powder is produced from 40 lakh litres. The milk powder business was in crisis as it is worth Rs150 a kg, while it is being sold at Rs116 a kg in the international market.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government was aware of the crisis and a meeting with stakeholders concerned will be convened soon in the chamber of Speaker to which all agitating members agreed.
Pradip Kumar Maitra
First Published: Dec 13, 2017 23:39 IST