PHRO seeks CBI probe into Amritsar cooperative bank scam

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 27

Days after the state government shifted investigation into the alleged bungling of government funds by various cooperative societies under the Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) on Sunday sought a CBI probe into the case.

The PHRO’s principal investigator, Sarabjit Singh Verka, alleged that even after a lapse of seven months, the authorities could not wind up the probe. No further arrests were made in the case registered in February this year, he said.

As per rules, any bank fraud over Rs 25 crore should be transferred to the CBI, he said. Verka pointed out that in the scam, the Amritsar rural police have unearthed bungling of Rs 19 crore by five cooperative societies under the Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank so far. “If a thorough probe is conducted in all cooperative societies in Punjab, the amount bungled would come around hundreds of crores,” he claimed.

The fraud

In February this year, the police registered an FIR into a fraud of Rs3 crore at Tarsikka branch of the Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank. Four persons, including the branch manager of the bank, Rakesh Kumar, and Ram Kishore of Ludhiana, two secretaries of cooperative societies identified as Sukhdev Singh of Sarai village and Sukhbir Singh of Bhatti village were booked. Rakesh Kumar and Ram Kishore were arrested.

The police filed a challan in the local court on May 16. According to sources, the police investigations found that Senior Manager, District Manager, bank officials, Deputy Registrars, Assistant Registrars, inspectors of cooperative societies and officials of the Audit Department colluded to misappropriate several crores.

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