The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday arrested Bablu Sonkar, a close associate of Amar Mulchandani, the former Chairman of Seva Vikas Cooperative Bank, along with two contractual staff working with the ED under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with a fraud in the bank headquartered at Pimpri near Pune, sources told IANS.
A senior ED official, who didn't wish to be named, confirmed the arrests with IANS.
The ED had initiated the investigation on the basis of multiple FIRs registered by the Pune Police based on complaints lodged by the bank and the audit conducted by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, which pointed at large-scale fraud and misappropriation of public funds, causing a loss of Rs 429 crore to the Seva Vikas Cooperative Bank.
The ED probe revealed that the bank was being run like a family proprietorship without following any prudent financial norms. Even loans were being sanctioned without any viable security and without ascertaining the credit worthiness of the applicants in return for massive kickbacks.
More than 92 per cent of the loan accounts turned NPA and now the bank has gone bankrupt. The ED had conducted searches at multiple locations in connection with the case.
"During the course of investigation, it was found that one person was seen frequently lurking around the ED office. The person turned out to be Babu Sonkar, an employee of Amar Mulchandani. Sonkar was tasked by the Mulchandani family to threaten the witnesses and pass on bribe amounts to one data entry operator and one contingent staff working in the ED office in exchange of sensitive information. The amounts paid have been recovered by the ED," the official said.
Certain incriminating documents have been recovered from the possession of Sonkar, while the apprehended contractual staff of the ED also admitted that they were passing sensitive information to the former.
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