Sunday, May 25, 2014

CBI busts corporate loan bribery scandal

Exposing a massive bribery scam in corporate loans given out by prominent public sector banks and financial institutions, the CBI on Wednesday arrested the chief executive officer (CEO) of LIC Housing Finance Ltd in Mumbai, a top officer of LIC and officers of Bank of India (BoI), Central Bank of India and Punjab National Bank (PNB).

CBI conducted raids in six major cities, including Delhi and Mumbai. Eight persons were arrested. Officials said this is a case of big- ticket corporate loans being given out by these institutions on payment of huge bribes to their top officials and by- passing mandatory conditions. Over 30 corporates, including some big real estate firms, are under the scanner for obtaining such loans.

It is alleged that some companies got housing loans by faking themselves as individuals and submitting fake documents, which were duly processed by the accused bankers upon payment of bribes. Corporates are not entitled to housing loans.

These are meant only for individuals and come at a lesser interest rate than commercial loans. CBI has named over a dozen such corporates in its FIR, albeit not as accused.

A Mumbai-based private financial services company, Money Matters Group, was acting as the mediator for such loans.

Those arrested are Ramchandran Nair, CEO, LIC Housing Finance Ltd; Naresh K. Chopta, secretary (investment), LIC; R. N. Tayal, general manager, BoI, Mumbai; Maninder Singh Johar, director (chartered accountant), Central Bank of India, New Delhi and Venkoba Gujjal, deputy general manager, PNB, New Delhi, Rajesh Sharma, CMD, Money Matters and two of his employees, Suresh Gattani and Sanjay Sharma.

CBI has accused Nair of showing undue favour to companies like D B Realty, Pashmina Ltd, Mantri Realty, Sigrun Holdings Ltd, Entertainment World and Indore City Treasures. It has also alleged that Rajesh Sharma of Money Matters delivered Rs  45 lakh to Nair last November besides financing the purchase of a flat, at a discounted price, by Nair in Goregaon.

CBI has alleged that Tayal received Rs  25 lakh from Sharma for assistance in a matter connected with Ashapura Minechem. Tayal is also accused of assuring Sharma to associate him in the power project proposals of BGR Energy worth Rs  200 crore and OPG Group worth Rs  300 crore.

CBI has accused Chopta of receiving Rs  16 lakh as kickback for providing inside information about LIC's dealing with companies like Adani, JP Hydro, JSW Power, Religare and Pantaloon.

Johar of Central Bank is accused of accepting Rs  30 lakh for providing undue favour to Lavasa.

Venkoba Gujjal of PNB is accused of taking Rs  20 lakh as bribe for facilitating a loan of Rs  50 crore to a client of Sharma.

The eight arrested were produced before a court from where CBI got their custody for five days. They are now being interrogated by CBI to identify the quantum of bribes paid to them - which CBI believes is between Rs  25 lakh to several crores in each case.

CBI has been reportedly tracking this matter for over a year and now moved in after getting concrete proof.

CBI sources insist it is not a case of unrecoverable loans given by the banks but a plain case of bribery where the top bankers took hefty bribes to speed up loan applications of corporates.
Courtesy: Mail Today
Aman Sharma     
New Delhi   Last Updated: November 25, 2010  | 10:34 IST

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