Loan scam: CBI expands probe, serves notices on 21 companies(Lead: Loan)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday served notices on 21 companies that had allegedly received loans from Indian public sector banks and financial institutions, a day after it arrested senior officials for sanctioning loans in return for bribes.

It had earlier served notices on 17 companies. Unconfirmed reports said that the investigating agency is probing the affairs of 23 other firms.

The CBI has asked these companies to submit the details of the loans they received. The companies have been asked to file their replies today.

CBI claims that the companies that allegedly benefited from the scam include Pashmina Mantri Realty, Sigrun, Entertainment World, Indore City Treasure, Lavasa, Ashapura Minechem, BGR Energy, OPG Group, Krishna Group, Suzlon, MRMGH, MBDB, Gold Sukha Project and JP Group.

The CBI, in its First Information Report, also claimed that Naresh Chopra, who was a secretary with LIC, leaked information about companies like Adani group, J P Hydro, JSW Power, Ralligear, D B Realty, Pantaloons, Adalite and MTech, that allegedly benefited from the scam.

So far, the CBI has arrested eight people. They include Ramchandran Nair, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LIC Housing Finance; R.N. Tayal, General Manager of Bank of India and Venkoba Gujjal, Deputy General Manager of Punjab National Bank.

In its FIR, the CBI said: “A private financial services company, its CMD and other associates were allegedly bribing senior officials of public sector banks and financial institutions for facilitating large scale corporate loans. They were also gathering confidential business information from financial institutions.”

The private company involved is Money Matters, and three of its senior-most officials, including Chairman and Managing Director Rajesh Sharma have been arrested.

The men at Money Matters allegedly acted as middlemen, bribing officials at public sector banks to get loans worth crores sanctioned for private firms, mainly real estate companies.

The bank officials are also accused of selling confidential information.

In another case, Naresh Chopra of LIC Mumbai has been accused of receiving Rs.16 lakhs from Money Matters” Rajesh Sharma.

Chopra allegedly traded confidential information on LIC investments into the Adani Group.

LIC”s Vigilance arm is also investigating the case independently.

LIC said the frauds were committed in the officers” own capacity, and no norms were violated.

The company has said there will be a new CEO for LIC Housing Finance. The announcement can be expected in two to three days.

Speaking about the finance racket, Banking Secretary R Gopalan said it was a bribery case involving some individuals and not a large-scale scam.

“It”s a case of individual greed not a systematic failure,” he added.

The arrests came after a CBI investigation covered five cities over a period of a year. (ANI)

Filed under: India

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