A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) of Bihar has been reported to be involved in a scam of more than Rs. 295 crore. On Wednesday, state chief minister Nitish Kumar revealed that the scam has been brought to light from the Bhagalpur district.
As reported by Financial Express, within a few hours after the scam was revealed, the Inspector General (IG), Economic Offence Unit (EOU), left for Bhagalpur with a team of officials to conduct a probe into the matter. The pace and intensity of the investigation reveal that the fraud involves a laundering of government funds on a large scale.
An NGO named Srijan Mahila Sahyog Vikas Samiti has allegedly illegally transferred more than Rs. 295 crore from the government funds to bank accounts of the NGO and other bank accounts for personal use. As per a report by The Hindu, 3 FIRs have been filed at the Bhagalpur Kotwali police station in the case against some government employees, bank officials, and promoters of the NGO Amit Kumar and his wife Priya Kumari. Both the promoters of the NGO, however, are absconding at the moment whereas the founder of the NGO, Manorama Devi, mother of Amit Kumar died earlier this year.
JS Gangwar, the IG, EOU who is heading the investigation has said that seven persons have been arrested in connection with the scam and further investigation is under progress. Bhagalpur District Magistrate, Adesh Titarmare’s private secretary Prem Kumar has also been taken into custody by the police for interrogation.
According to a report by The Times of India, besides Prem Kumar, among those who have been arrested are Rakesh Yadav and Rakesh Jha, Ajay Pandey who is a clerk of Indian Bank, retired audit officer Satish Chandra Jha and Sarita Jha and Vanshidhar Jha who are employees of Srijan NGO. IG Gangwar also said that the prowess of the fraudsters is evident in the fact that the accountant general who conducted an audit two years ago could not detect any discrepancy in the government records regarding the scam which has been going on at least since 2007.
The transfer of funds to different accounts of the NGO was allegedly done by forging the signatures of the district magistrate and involves people who are well-versed with the modalities. Since the investigation is still going on, the exact amount of the scam is yet to be determined. It is being suspected that the scam could have spread to other districts of the state as well.
The case of massive fraud through forgery was uncovered a day after Bihar’s former deputy chief minister, Tejashwi Yadav, launched a rally named ‘Janadesh Apman Yatra’ in Patna for “exposing” the CM for breaking the Bihar Assembly election mandate of 2015 and forming a new government in alliance with BJP.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has demanded a CBI probe into the scam. According to Yadav, present deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi is also involved in the fraud since he was the finance minister during the period when the fraud was committed between 2005 and 2016.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar has said that the government has been getting reports of such scams from other districts as well and none of these will be tolerated.