CBI books 5 Syndicate Bank officials in Rs1,000-cr scam

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against five officials of state-run Syndicate Bank, a chartered accountant and three private people among others on charges of causing a loss of Rs1,000 crore to the bank by discounting of fake cheques and bills against fake insurance policies and overdraft limits against non-existent policies.

In a new scam that gives a new twist to public sector banks' NPA additions, four businessmen allegedly managed to open 386 accounts in three branches of Syndicate Bank in Rajasthan in connivance with five of its executives and defrauded it of Rs1,000 crore, using fake cheques, letters of credit and LIC policies.

The CBI has named five executives of Syndicate Bank and the businessmen besides colluding chartered accountant and three other private people in an FIR. Officers of the agency also carried out searches at 10 locations in three cities - Delhi NCR, Jaipur and Udaipur.

The bank officials against whom charges have been filed include New Delhi branch's general manager Satish Kumar Goel, Jaipur regional office deputy general manager Sanjeev Kumar, Jaipur branch chief manager Deshraj Meena and assistant general managers of New Delhi's Malviya Nagar branch and Jaipur branch, Adarsh Manchanda and Awdhesh Tiwari, respectively.

The other accused include Bharat Bamb, a chartered accountant and a resident of Udaipur, and three others - Shankar Khandelwal, Piyush Jain and Vineet Jain - all from Jaipur.

All of them have been booked for criminal conspiracy, using forged document, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Goel was recently transferred to Syndicate Bank's New Delhi Branch.

Sources said that the fraud was unearthed recently and a Central Bureau of Investigation complaint was made after the suspension of the bank officials.

''It was alleged that the accused persons in connivance with the bank officials committed a fraud of Rs1,000 crore by resorting to discounting of fake cheques and fake inland bills against fake L/Cs and arranging over-draft limit against non-existent LIC policies,'' said CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh.

He said the fraud was allegedly committed at Jaipur and Udaipur branches in Rajasthan and Malviya Nagar branch in Delhi.

''It was further alleged that the bank officials of the two branches colluded with private persons in the crime since 2011. The amount involved in individual transactions ranged from Rs40 lakh to Rs5 crore but a majority of them were in the range of Rs2.5-4 crore,'' the official said.

To avoid detection, many of these transactions were nullified from the proceeds of new fraudulent transactions, he added.

''Searches are being conducted at 10 locations, including Jaipur, Udaipur and New Delhi, which led to recovery of incriminating documents,'' the official added.

It may be noted that Syndicate Bank had earlier come under CBI scanner in 2013 when its chairman-cum-managing director S K Jain was arrested on alleged bribery charges.

It is likely that the rot could be wider than revealed so far and reports say Syndicate Bank realised the gravity of the issue only recently, when it was referred to the CBI for probe.