By Priti Naik
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started its probe on former chairman and managing director of ABG Shipyard Ltd, Rishi Agarwal for India’s biggest loan fraud case. He was questioned in connection with the probe into Rs 22,848 crore alleged banking fraud. The Central probe agency registered the FIR on February 7 on a complaint made by public lender SBI on August 25, 2020.
CBI has also issued look out circulars against the accused in the case to prevent them from leaving the country. The CBI has also named the then executive director Santhanam Muthaswamy, directors Ashwini Kumar, Sushil Kumar Agarwal and Ravi Vimal Nevetia and another company ABG International Pvt Ltd for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and abuse of official position under the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
After filing the FIR, the CBI swung into action and conducted searches at 13 locations on February 12. Officials claimed they had received several incriminating documents, such as books of accounts of the accused borrower company, which was being scrutinised.
Meanwhile, SBI had first filed a complaint on November 8, 2019 on which the central investigation agency had sought some clarifications on March 12, 2020. The bank then filed a fresh complaint in August that year. Officials said the case was big with voluminous data and records as 28 banks were involved and needed verification before moving with an FIR. They said the company had allegedly diverted funds to a lot of companies which also needed detailed scrutiny.
The company was sanctioned credit facilities from 28 banks and financial institutions led by ICICI Bank, with the SBI, having exposure of Rs 2,468.51 crore. A forensic audit by Ernst and Young has shown that between 2012-17, the accused colluded together and committed illegal activities, including diversion of funds, misappropriation and criminal breach of trust, they said. It is the biggest bank fraud case registered by the CBI. Funds were used for purposes other than for which they were released by banks, it said.