Day after registering FIR against Ajit Pawar, others, Mumbai Police forms SIT to investigate Maharashtra co-operative bank scam


Mumbai: Mumbai Police on Tuesday formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe an alleged scam at the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB), days after the Bombay High Court pulled it up for not registering an FIR in the matter.

The high court, last week, ordered the economic offences wing (EOW) of the police to file a first information report (FIR) against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, a former director of the bank, and others for allegedly causing losses to the bank through their actions.

 Day after registering FIR against Ajit Pawar, others, Mumbai Police forms SIT to investigate Maharashtra co-operative bank scam

File image of Mumbai Police. AFP

As per the FIR, registered on Monday, the state exchequer allegedly suffered losses of “Rs 25,000 crore” due to the scam between 1 January, 2007 and 31 December, 2017.

According to a senior police official, the FIR does not name the accused but mentions designations such as “then chief ministers”, “then deputy chief minsters”, ministers, directors of the bank, directors of Pen Cooperative Bank and concerned officers.

The SIT will be headed by a deputy commissioner of police-level officer and include an assistant commissioner of police (ACP) and four other officers.

“We have to study the FIR and collect documents from various departments of the government. There will be a forensic audit of these documents. It will definitely take more than two months to come to any kind of conclusion about how to go further,” the senior official added.

The complainant in the case had named 76 persons who were directors of the bank during the relevant period, but the number of accused could cross 200, he said.

On 22 August, the high court directed the police to register an FIR against Ajit Pawar, the former deputy chief minister who was once a director of the bank, and over 70 others, observing that they seemed to have “complete knowledge” that their actions would cause a huge loss to the bank.

They are accused of violating banking and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations while disbursing loans to sugar mills at very low rates and selling off assets of defaulter businesses at throw-away prices.

Inquiries by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and a charge sheet filed by a quasi-judicial inquiry commission under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act had blamed Pawar and other accused.

Surinder Arora, an activist, had filed a complaint against Ajit Pawar and others with the EOW in 2015. He moved the high court when no FIR was registered.

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