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SBI gold loan scam in Hoshiarpur: Complaint filed against borrowers

RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht, who has apprised the Reserve Bank of India, the  Prime Minister’s Office and the Union finance minister of the scam demanding a thorough probe, said that without bank officials' involvement it, could not have taken shape.

punjab Updated: Mar 17, 2018 11:59 IST
Harpreet Kaur
Harpreet Kaur
Hindustan Times, Hoshiarpur
SBI gold loan,gold loan scam,Complaint filed
Bank authorities have also sought a fraud case against the goldsmith, who had certified the gold ornaments pledged with the bank to avail loans.(HT File/Representative image)

Notwithstanding their claim that they had been duped by a financier, the State Bank of India (SBI) has sought the registration of a criminal case against the 224 borrowers, who had 'availed' gold loans worth Rs 7.68 crore through a financier from its Bulhowal branch from May 2015 till February 5 this year.

In a formal complaint to the senior superintendent of police (SSP), the bank authorities have also sought a fraud case against the goldsmith, who had certified the gold ornaments pledged with the bank to avail loans. There is no mention of the Fatehpur-based financier in the complaint, who is understood to be the mastermind in the multi-crore fraud case.

The internal inquiry of the bank had detected that of the 290 gold loan cases approved in the period, substandard gold was deposited with the bank in 224 cases, causing a loss of around ₹4.65 crore to the bank. The matter had come to light when the gold deposited by a customer, who wanted to renew his loan, was found to have changed colour. On examination by a goldsmith not empanelled with the bank, it was found to be sub substandard. It alarmed the bank authorities, who got other pledged jewellery examined too. The value of the ornaments calculated by private goldsmith was much low.

SSP J Elanchazhian confirmed having received the complaint and said action would be taken after a thorough scrutiny.

The bank has named Jatinder Kumar of Lord Krishna Jewellers, Bhulhowal, as the culprit, who kept certifying substandard gold as pure. At the same time, it has demanded action against all the 224 borrowers against whose name loans were sanctioned.

The villagers, however, pleaded innocence and complained that they were duped by the said financier who mortgaged fake or substandard gold in their names. Many of them had not given any ornament at all to the man, they claimed. They said they had been paying interest on the loan amount to the financier who facilitated them to get their loan cases approved from the bank.

"We borrowed small amounts to meet our personal needs. We do not know how much loan he (financier) got approved against our names or what ornaments he pledged. Implicating us as fraudsters is gross injustice", the villagers said.

RTI activist Rajiv Vashisht, who has apprised the Reserve Bank of India, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Union finance minister of the scam demanding a thorough probe, said that without bank officials' involvement it, could not have taken shape.

"It is surprising that soon after the bank came to know of the fraud, fake ornaments stopped coming for mortgage," he said.

SSP J Elanchazhian confirmed having received the complaint and said action would be taken after a thorough scrutiny. "I was busy in official meetings so I could not go through the details," he said.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 11:58 IST