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17 companies on CBI radar
NEW DELHI, NOV 25 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 25 Nov. 2010 11:41 PM IST
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A day after it arrested the very top rung of some of India’s public sector banks and financial institutions for allegedly sanctioning loans in return for bribes, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now shifted its focus to 17 companies that allegedly received loans.
The investigating agency has served notification to all companies under the scanner in the multi-crore scam and asked them to submit details of the loans they got as alleged beneficiaries. The companies have been asked to file their replies by today. CBI claims that the companies that allegedly benefited from the scam include Pashmina Mantri Realty, Sigrun, Entertainment World, Indore City Treasure, Lavasa, Ashapura Minechem, BGR Energy, OPG Group, Krishna Group, Suzlon, MRMGH, MBDB, Gold Sukha Project and JP Group.
The CBI, in its FIR, has also claimed that Naresh Chopra, who was a secretary with LIC, leaked information about companies like Adani group, J P Hydro, JSW Power, Ralligear, D B Realty, Pantaloons, Adalite and MTech, that allegedly benefited from the scam.
A total of eight people have been arrested by the CBI. Among them: Ramchandran Nair, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LIC Housing Finance; RN Tayal, General Manager of Bank of India; and Venkoba Gujjal, Deputy General Manager of Punjab National Bank. (Read: Top bank managers arrested for loans-for-bribes scam)
“A private financial services company, its CMD and other associates were allegedly bribing senior officials of public sector banks and financial institutions for facilitating large scale corporate loans. They were also gathering confidential business information from financial institutions,” the CBI had said.
The private company involved is Money Matters, and three of its senior-most officials, including Chairman and Managing Director Rajesh Sharma have been arrested. The men at Money Matters allegedly acted as middlemen, bribing officials at public sector banks to get loans worth crores sanctioned for private firms, mainly real estate companies. The bank officials are also accused of selling confidential information.
In another case, Naresh Chopra of LIC Mumbai has been accused of receiving Rs. 16 lakhs from Money Matters’ Rajesh Sharma. Chopra allegedly traded confidential information on LIC investments into the Adani Group.
LIC’s Vigilance arm is also investigating the case independently. Sources in LIC have told NDTV that the frauds were committed in the officers’ own capacity, and no norms were violated. In a statement released after the arrests on Wednesday, LIC had said, “All procedures and approved guidelines were adhered to in approving the loans. All loans have been secured by underlying assets to the satisfaction of approving authority. Steps will be taken to protect interests of various stakeholders.” The company has said there will be a new CEO for LIC Housing Finance. The announcement can be expected in two to three days.
‘’These are cases of bribery. These are cases of corruption. Bribery by public officials, by people working in public sector organisations, and facilitating and sanctioning loans by taking money. And they have zeroed in on real-estate sector and certain developers who must have paid money to get loans sanctioned,’’ said Deepak Parekh, the chairman of HDFC Bank.
The government has, meanwhile, sought to play down the episode. Speaking about the finance racket, Banking Secretary R Gopalan said it was a bribery case involving some individuals and not a large-scale scam. “It’s a case of individual greed not a systematic failure,” he added.
The arrests came after a CBI investigation that covered five cities and lasted over a year.
Taped conversations referred to in the CBI’s First Information Report (FIR) revealed incriminating details.
The CBI charges that Rajesh Sharma of Money Matters paid a Rs. 25-lakh bribe to RN Tayal at the Bank of India. In return, Tayal allegedly assured him of two loans worth Rs. 500 crore for two different companies.
“If you can’t get a 300-crore project passed... what is the use of you being in this position?” asks Sharma brazenly.

 
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