CBI raids co-op bank offices in Maharashtra in demonetised currency case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday conducted searches at 32 places, including the administrative office and 17 branches of a Maharashtra-based co-operative bank, and the residential premises of some accused persons at the locations across Pune, Baramati and Lonavala in a case relating to alleged exchange of demonetised currency notes.

Incriminating documents were recovered during the searches and the CBI has registered a case under Sections 120-B, 420,471,477- A of IPC and Sections 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of PC Act 1988 against nine officials of Muslim Co-operative Bank Ltd, Pune and others.

It was alleged that since the demonetisation announcement on 8 November 2016 by the government of India, the accused officials conspired with each other and exchanged demonetised currency notes of the denomination of Rs1,000 and Rs500 amounting to approximately Rs40 lakh for an equivalent amount of currency notes of worth Rs100 and Rs50, which were collected from different branches of the said co-operative bank in Maharashtra.

It was also alleged that the accused replaced the original small cash books (cash summary books) of the administrative office and branches of the bank, with new manipulated small cash books containing several false entries with respect to various denominations of general currency notes of Rs1,000 and Rs500 along with Rs100 and Rs50 denominations to accommodate the exchange of demonetised currency.

PA Inamdar, chairman of Muslim Cooperative Bank, said the CBI team had come to the bank for inquiries and took away some documents with them. Inamdar further said that the bank management had cooperated with the central agency and had already submitted all the documents demanded by the CBI officials.

''For now, we do not know on whose complaint the current action is being taken and we have not been given a copy of the complaint either. The bank is doing really well as far as the growth rate is concerned,'' he added.

Sources said the raids were carried out on the basis of a complaint related to the alleged money laundering in the aftermath of demonetisation.

Referring to the current bank directors SM Iqbal and Imtiaz Shikilkar, who are at loggerheads with the bank's managment, Inamdar added that baseless and frivolous allegations were being levelled against the bank by people with vested interests.

Both SM Iqbal and Shikilkar had conducted a press conference last week where they had alleged that a financial fraud to the tune of Rs100 to Rs110 crore had been committed by the Muslim Cooperative Bank. Inamdar has strongly refuted the allegations.

''Necessary action will be taken at the appropriate time and in an appropriate manner. The bank directors wanted to indulge in vices like stopping loan recovery cases with ulterior motives and also wanted the bank to sanction loans for their acquaintances, which I will not allow and will never accept. I believe in following the law and will never allow such wrongful acts in the bank,'' Inamdar said in response to a question.