Fresh CBI complaint against Chirag computers maker for Rs515 crore fraud
Kolkata: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday registered a complaint against Kolkata-based RP Info Systems Pvt. Ltd, maker of the Chirag brand of computers, for defrauding a group of lenders of at least Rs515 crore.
This isn’t the first complaint filed against RP Info Systems. In December 2013, IDBI Bank had filed a complaint with CBI, seeking a probe into fraudulent diversion of funds using fake documents, but the central agency restricted its probe to the extent of IDBI Bank’s exposure to the company, Canara Bank said in its complaint filed on Monday.
A separate statement issued by Canara Bank late on Wednesday said the original complaint on the Rs515 crore fraud was filed in December 2015 by the lead lender of RP Info Systems (Canara Bank did not name the lender). It said after the lead lender withdrew as the consortium leader, it was authorized by the remaining banks, on the direction of CBI, to file a revised complaint, which it filed on Wednesday. Canara Bank said it had financed a Rs40 crore working capital limit to the company, and had reported it as a fraud to the Reserve Bank of India in 2015 itself.
The petition alleged that RP Info Systems obtained credit facilities from at least 10 state-run banks—including State Bank of India and two of its erstwhile associate banks—by submitting “fabricated” documents.
The company had overstated its inventory and submitted falsified invoices to obtain credit facilities, the bank said. In fiscal year 2013-14, the company wrote off inventory worth Rs397.62 crore and receivables worth Rs499.30 crore, Canara Bank has said in its complaint.
RP Info Systems had claimed companies such as GAIL (India) Ltd and tyre maker Ceat Ltd owed it money, but the two companies had later informed State Bank of India that they had nothing to do with the computer maker, CBI has noted in its first information report (FIR).
Kaustuv Ray, one of the founders and a director of RP Info Systems, said the dispute dates back to 2012-13, and that CBI had already investigated the matter.
Referring to the complaint filed by IDBI Bank, he claimed that CBI had already submitted its chargesheet and that a trial had begun. RP Info Systems has challenged CBI’s chargesheet and has started to repay its lenders, Ray added.
The Reserve Bank of India has asked all lenders to closely examine if there were cases of fraud among reported non-performing assets.
Canara Bank claims in its complaint to CBI that all 10 lenders, on behalf of which it has lodged the complaint, had reported their loss to RP Infosystems as fraud to the banking regulator in 2015 or 2016.
However, it is not immediately clear why none of these 10 lenders—which does not include IDBI Bank—hadn’t reported the fraud to CBI even after realizing that the probe initiated by the central agency was restricted to the exposure of IDBI Bank only.
Collectively, 11 lenders, including IDBI Bank, have initiated proceedings against the computer maker for recovery of Rs651 crore, Canara Bank has said in its complaint.
RP Info Systems owes State Bank of India—along with its erstwhile associates State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Jaipur and Bikaner—Rs186.92 crore. It owes Canara Bank Rs81.23 crore and Central Bank of India, Rs82.11 crore. Punjab National Bank had a claim of Rs73.12 crore at the end of the June quarter of 2013, the complaint said.
The complaint names Ray and his erstwhile partner Shivaji Panja among key officials of the company as responsible for the fraud. Panja, who has parted ways with Ray, couldn’t be immediately reached for comments. Ray and Panja previously had diverse business interests which included films, media and tea, besides computer hardware.
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