Friday, May 7

EOW probe: 23 PMC bankers, clients took out Rs 70 crore before curbs

MUMBAI: Twenty-three individuals comprising senior bankers, directors and account holders of Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank had allegedly withdrawn around Rs 70 crore days before the Reserve Bank of India imposed a clampdown on the lender, the ongoing probe by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has showed.

Officials at the EOW of the Mumbai Police said these individuals withdrew the money between September 7 and September 19. On September 21, the bank’s managing director, Joy Thomas, wrote to the RBI about alleged violations of regulations and irregularities in its dealings and two days later, the central bank put restrictions on the bank, including a Rs 1,000 cap on withdrawals. The ceiling has since been increased in phases, to Rs 50,000 now.

Grant Thornton, which conducted a forensic audit of the bank, has pegged the alleged fraud at Rs 6,670 crore in its draft report, the EOW officials said. It was earlier estimated to be Rs 4,355 crore. The audit has also found alleged misappropriation of Rs 5 crore by bank employees, they said.

Meanwhile, the city police on Tuesday arrested three more directors of the bank: Jagdish Mookhey, Trupti Bane and Mukti Bavisi. So far 12 people — two promoters of real estate firm HDIL, three auditors and seven former directors — have been arrested in the case.

When contacted, EOW chief Rajvardhan Sinha confirmed the arrests and told ET that the accused would be produced before a court on Wednesday.

According to Grant Thornton’s draft report, officials said, at least Rs 70 crore was allegedly paid to the relatives of the accused former directors of PMC Bank by HDIL. This amount is being treated by the police as “kickbacks” that the directors received for “overlooking” the alleged irregularities in the company’s accounts.

According to the members of the bank’s credit committee, who are also the whistleblowers in the case, they had held a meeting with the RBI on September 18 where they placed the facts about some masked accounts operated by HDIL, said an official involved in the probe.

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