Gold loan scam in Punjab: SBI branch manager, financier booked | punjab | jalandhar | Hindustan Times
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Gold loan scam in Punjab: SBI branch manager, financier booked

Fraud Case: Borrowers have blamed the financier who, they say, mortgaged substandard gold in their names without their knowledge; empanelled jeweller certified fake gold as pure.

punjab Updated: Mar 20, 2018 10:22 IST
Harpreet Kaur
Harpreet Kaur
Hindustan Times, Hoshiarpur
Financier Sukhwinderpal Singh (blue shirt), who was caught by borrowers in Hoshiarpur on Monday.
Financier Sukhwinderpal Singh (blue shirt), who was caught by borrowers in Hoshiarpur on Monday. (HT Photo)

A case of fraud has finally been registered in the State Bank of India (SBI) gold loan scam in the bank's Bulhowal branch here.

On the complaint of borrowers, whose identity was used to draw loans worth crores, the police, on Monday, booked branch manager Sidharth Bhatti, financier Sukhwinder Pal Singh and the bank's empanelled goldsmith Jatinder Kumar. The financier, who had allegedly duped hundreds of villagers in the name of gold loan, was also captured by some of the loanees and handed over to the police.

High drama prevailed in the district courts complex on Monday when a victim of his deceit recognised financier Sukhwinder Pal Singh, who was roaming in the area with a covered face, recognise him and caught hold of him . with the help of others and dragged him to the office of the senior superintendent of police (SSP).

As there was no mention of the financier in the bank’s complaint regarding the mult-crore rip-off, the police were first in a fix to formally arrest him but, later in the day, when the borrowers lodged a formal complaint against him, the police arrested him.

DSP (headquarters) Jung Bahadur Sharma said the plaint against the borrowers was being investigated by the economic offences wing.

The SBI branch had, through its branch manager, filed a complaint against the 224 borrowers, who were 'on-record' beneficiaries of the gold loans worth Rs 7.6 crore and the empanelled goldsmith, who certified substandard gold pledged with the bank as pure. But as allegations of the local staff's connivance in the scam emerged, the police took their time to decide if the branch manager's plea could be entertained. The manager was transferred to the regional office on Saturday.

The internal inquiry of the bank had detected 224 loan cases between May 2015 and February this year, as fraudulent in which substandard gold was mortgaged and had pegged the loss at Rs 4.65 crore. The matter was kept under the wraps but ,when it was highlighted by the media, the bank lodged a complaint against the borrowers and goldsmith Jatinder Kumar of Lord Krishna Jewellers, Bhulhowal, who used to certify the gold.

The whistleblower in the case, RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht, has demanded a CBI inquiry in the scam. "The fraud can unfold to much wider proportions. It might have been taking shape for long," he said.

Borrowers have blamed the financier who, they say, mortgaged substandard gold in their names without their knowledge, but sources revealed that they would also be thoroughly questioned by the police in the coming days.

Senior superintendent of police J Elanchazhian could not be contacted. DSP (headquarters) Jung Bahadur Sharma said the plaint against the borrowers was being investigated by the economic offences wing.