Now, Vigilance to probe coop society fraud case

PK Jaiswar

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20

The Punjab Government has finally handed over investigation in the multi-crore cooperative bank fraud to the Vigilance Bureau.

The VB has now asked the Amritsar rural police to hand over the case file to it for further probe. SSP, Vigilance, Parampal Singh confirmed the development.

Earlier, Cooperation and Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had ordered a Vigilance probe into the alleged scam. The VB had received orders for conducting only an ‘inquiry’ implying that it would not have the authority to search, arrest or prepare the final report (in the scam) and it would allow them to only ascertain the facts given in the FIR.

The case was handed over to officials of the Vigilance Bureau as the rural police officials sat on the probe and did not make any much progress. Since the registration of an FIR in February this year, the police arrested only two accused while no other suspect was nominated in the case. It was alleged that the rural police were acting under pressure as the accused were considered close to prominent political leaders in the region.

In February, the police had registered an FIR under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC into the Rs 3 crore fraud in Tarsikka branch of the bank. In the case, four persons, including branch manager Rakesh Kumar and cashier Ram Kishore, were arrested. Two of their accomplices, Sukhdev Singh of Sarai village and Sukhbir Singh of Bhatti village (both secretaries of the cooperative societies), were booked. The police filed a challan in the local court on May 16. The investigations found that the senior manager, the district manager, bank officials, deputy registrars, assistant registrars, inspectors of cooperative societies and officials of the Audit Department colluded and misappropriated funds running into crores of rupees.

The investigation was extended to other branches of cooperative bank, unearthing a major scam. It was found that the fraud was committed at five branches — Tarsikka, Saidoke Lehal, Bhattike, Chogwan Sadhpur and Kohala — falling under the jurisdiction of the Tarsikka branch of the bank. “We have got orders for holding investigation into the alleged bungling of government funds and asked the Amritsar rural police for handing over the case file so that the probe could be started,” said the SSP (Vigilance).

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