Photo: HT
Photo: HT

In massive crackdown on fraud, CBI searches 169 places across India

  • The agency’s crackdown comes against the backdrop of its current probes against several financial and white-collar crimes, including the PNB fraud and the ICICI Bank probe
  • CBI says the searches were based on complaints by the SBI, PNB, Andhra Bank, OBC, and other banks

NEW DELHI : Amid its ongoing probes into several high-profile cases of bank frauds, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday launched a massive crackdown at 169 places across India with alleged links to cases of financial crimes worth a total of 7,200 crore.

The agency’s crackdown comes against the backdrop of its current probes against several financial and white-collar crimes, including the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and the ICICI Bank probe. Those questioned include top industry bankers.

With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recording more than 6,800 cases of bank fraud amounting to 71,500 crore in 2018-19 alone, the probe agency on Tuesday said that the searches were based on complaints by the State Bank of India (SBI), PNB, Andhra Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Indian Overseas Bank, Allahabad Bank, Canara Bank, Dena Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, Central Bank of India, Union Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, and Bank of India.

The 169 premises were spread across Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

A CBI official said the probe agency has registered around 42 cases related to bank frauds involving more than 7,200 crore. “Investigations and searches are ongoing," the official said.

The agency began its anti-corruption drive earlier this year to probe cases of financial crimes in association with the vigilance officers of concerned government departments, ministries and organisations, with the action being in consonance with “the CBI mandate of anti-corruption work", a person familiar with the development said.

The move comes nearly two years after the 14,356 crore scam involving PNB became the focus of both the CBI and the enforcement directorate (ED), with a global dragnet in place to try and arrest diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The CBI and ED are currently pushing for their extradition from the UK and Antigua respectively.

Quick on the heels of the PNB scam which broke in February 2018, the agency registered a 1,394.43 crore bank fraud case against Hyderabad-based Totem Infrastructure Ltd on a complaint by state-run Union Bank of India. That came just days after it registered a case against Chennai-based Kanishk Gold and its promoters for allegedly duping SBI and 13 other banks of 824.15 crore.

In the budget session of Parliament this year, the Lok Sabha was informed that RBI in 2018-19 registered 921 cases of financial fraud involving ATM, debit and credit cards, and internet banking, each involving amounts of 1 lakh and above.

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