Times of India | 1 week ago | 05-08-2022 | 05:28 am
MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) submitted a chargesheet against builders Avinash Bhosale and Sanjay Chhabriaa before the special PMLA court on Thursday in a money laundering case connected to the Yes Bank-DHFL Rs 3,700-crore loan fraud and money laundering case. Brothers and erstwhile promoters of DHFL Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan have also been named. It is alleged that Chhabriaa and Bhosale received proceeds of crime generated from the loan fraud. The ED refused to share the details of the chargesheet. Recently, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against these accused in a related cheating case and during the investigation, they had found the quantum of fraud was Rs 4,727 crore, more than the earlier estimated amount of Rs 3,700 crore. The CBI had arrested Chhabriaa and Bhosale first in the Yes Bank-HDFL cheating case and later the ED too obtained their custody in the related money laundering case. They are in jail custody. The ED investigation found that Yes Bank, then headed by Rana Kapoor, had invested Rs 3,700 crore in DHFL. In lieu, DHFL's Kapil Wadhawan paid Rs 600 crore kickbacks to Kapoor in the guise of a loan to DOIT Urban Venture, controlled by Kapoor's three daughters. The Wadhawan brothers siphoned off the money and Bhosale, who helped them to get the loan, received commission from them. The ED alleged that "immediately after Yes Bank diverted a part of funds to DHFL, in the first week of June 2018, DHFL diverted Rs 66 crore to Bhosale". Bhosale also received Rs 431 crore in his company Nibodh Realty from Chhabriaa. DHFL further diverted most of the Yes Bank investment into Chhabriaa's company, Radius group, in the guise of loans. It is alleged that all the accused entered into a criminal conspiracy to commit the fraud by causing loss to Yes Bank and DHFL for personal gain. Recently, the ED attached Bhosale's duplex flat on 53-54 floors of Sesen Building on Nepeansea Road worth over Rs 103 crore, along with several other properties owned by Bhosale and Chhabriaa collectively worth Rs 415 crore, in the case.
MUMBAI: In one of the biggest crackdowns to date, the state blood regulatory authority has penalised the city's leading private hospitals for overcharging blood, blood products and related tests. State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC), in a first, has collected an eye-popping Rs 2.3 crore in fines from 20 blood banks attached to hospitals and standalone ones for charging 100% to 400% higher processing fees for the life-saving product. The penalty was the culmination of a three-year-long investigation of invoices generated by the blood banks between 2014 and 2019. The seed for the action was sowed about seven years ago when a joint inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and SBTC found that one out of three blood banks was flouting the prescribed rates. While it is illegal to buy and sell blood in India, blood banks charge a processing fee to prepare and run various blood product checks. It is here that discrepancies were found. The most common offence observed across banks was overcharging for grouping and cross-matching of blood -the official rate, if grouping/cross-matching is done through automation is Rs 280, and semi-automation is Rs 120. Yet, banks charged anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 1,400; many hospitals charged based on the category of the room the patient was admitted in. A hospital charged up to Rs 1,320 for deluxe class patients. While a unit of single donor platelet is supposed to cost Rs 11,000 inclusive of all tests, several banks charged tests separately. One hospital charged over Rs 5,000 for donor screening, a cost that should be included in Rs 11,000. Some charged excessively for platelets and cryoprecipitate. Many took double and triple the amount against the fixed rate of Rs 400. Despite not having the machine, one blood bank charged patients for chemiluminescent test (used in donor infectious disease screening). Dr Pradeep Vyas, additional chief secretary (health), told TOI such a step had been taken for the first time. "It was an old pending issue that has reached a logical conclusion. We will take action whenever we encounter overcharging," he said. An SBTC official noted while hospitals have paid up Rs 1.3 crore, another Rs 86 lakh is expected soon. Last September, SBTC roped in a CA firm after the corruption appeared to be widespread. The banks were fined 20% of the excess amount they charged. Data collected via RTI by Chetan Kothari revealed fines were collected from PD Hinduja (Rs 33.3 lakh), Jaslok (Rs 17.37 lakh), Kokilaben Ambani Hospital (Rs 14.7 lakh) and Bombay Hospital (Rs 12.62 lakh), among others (see box). Some standalone banks such as Bandra's Mahatma Gandhi Seva Mandir and Pallavi blood bank were fined Rs 8.9 lakh and Rs 6.3 lakh. A few running under PPP model in BMC premises also billed higher rates. One hospital head said it was a case of ambiguity about charges. An hospital CEO said no patient was charged more but the cost of associated tests varied. Jitendra Haryana, CEO of Jaslok Hospital, said, "In our case, there was a partial non-compliance due to an oversight. We rectified it immediately after being pointed out in April 2018."
THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) has made its tenth arrest during its investigation into the murder of Amravati-based chemist Umesh Kolhe.On Friday, the tenth accused, Shaikh Salim Shaikh Chhotu, and two others arrested earlier this month were produced before the special court. In a hearing, which was in-camera, the NIA sought further custody of the accused arrested earlier, Abdul Arbaaz and Mushfique Ahmed, stating that it wants to probe further into their roles and on the involvement of other accused. The special court sent the three to NIA’s custody till August 17.Kolhe was murdered on June 21 while he was on his way home after closing his shop in Amravati.The Maharashtra police, which initially investigated the case, had said that Kolhe was killed allegedly for a social media post supporting BJP’s Nupur Sharma who had made controversial comments on Prophet Mohammed in a TV debate.The NIA told the court that the three accused’s role was in harbouring the accused and in planning the conspiracy. The NIA also submitted that Call Data Records and bank account details of the accused have to be probed to find links to the larger conspiracy including its financial aspects.An application was submitted on behalf of the accused that they had not given confession or intended to give one to the investigators.The accused through their lawyers said that their custody was not needed as their bank documents and mobile phones were seized.The court allowed the NIA’s plea for their custody. Previously, seven accused were arrested by the state police. The case was then transferred to the NIA.
PUNE: The existing government-appointed administrators of the soon-to-be-defunct Rupee Cooperative Bank have said they would seek legal counsel over the next steps after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cancelled the 110-year-old bank’s licence. The Rupee Cooperative Bank will cease to exist as a bank from September 22 this year, with the RBI on Wednesday announcing cancellation of its licence on the grounds that public interest would be adversely affected if it was allowed to operate. In a statement on Thursday, the administrators of the bank called the RBI’s cancellation decision “fatal” that will “finish a legendary institution”. Freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was instrumental in setting up the bank in 1912. The bank had then sought equity investments in small amounts, often as low as Re 1, from the people. It was on the basis of this concept that the bank got its name. The bank initially got its banking licence from RBI in February 1987 and was listed in the Second Schedule of the RBI Act the following year. “The RBI’s decision to cancel the banking licence of the Rupee Bank is very unfortunate. Despite the satisfactory performance for the past six years on all fronts, the RBI has taken this fatal decision. The cancellation of the licence is not a solution. The finishing of a century-old legendary institution has left us dejected. We are not demoralised though. We will take into confidence the depositors, employees and all other stakeholders. We will also take legal advice and decide the further course of action,” said Sudhir Pandit, the bank’s administrator. Sources in the bank said while the advances owed by the defaulters to the bank have been adjusted against the deposits they hold there, there are still around Rs6.12 crore of deposits linked to those who owe Rs19 crore in loans to the bank. A source said this was due to the conditions to the permission received from the RBI to adjust deposits from loans owed by the defaulters. The bank got the permissions to adjust deposits from loans owed to the bank over 2017-18. The depositors of the bank, who have also vowed to mount a legal challenge to the RBI’s decision at the Bombay high court, will stage a demonstration outside Rupee Bank’s Marketyard office at 4pm on Friday. RBI has communicated to the state government, specifically the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar of Cooperative Societies (CC&RCS), Maharashtra, to appoint liquidators to wind up the bank. A source in the commissionerate, which is based in Pune, said action is expected next week.
They left for Nashik in around 120 vehicles from Mumbai on August 3, taking care to leave separately. All the vehicles were decked up. Some carried boards declaring “dulhan hum le jayenge”. Others had posters saying “Rahul weds Anjali”.One would be forgiven for assuming that this was your usual bridegroom baarat making its way to a wedding of a familiar-sounding couple.It was anything but.The around 250 travellers were Income Tax and Nashik police officers, disguised as baraatis, and on their radar were two major manufacturers of steel TMT bars, suspected of evading tax.Once they entered Nashik, they conducted raids at the premises, warehouses and farmhouses, related to the two businessmen. It took them over 11 hours to count the money seized at a local SBI branch, said an officer.Besides Nashik, the department also raided properties linked to the two businessmen in Aurangabad, Jalna and Mumbai between August 3 and 9, it said in a statement.The elaborate ruse was worth it. In all, the officers ended up seizing Rs 56 crore in unaccounted cash as well as gold and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore, along with incriminating documents, the statement said.According to the I-T Department, the two businessmen evaded tax of over Rs 120 crore. The stash of cash and jewellery was kept in more than 30 accounts of a cooperative bank and inside an undisclosed chamber of a farmhouse.The I-T department statement said: “The Income-Tax Department carried out a search operation on 03.08.2022 on two major groups engaged in the manufacturing of steel TMT Bars. The search operation covered more than 30 premises spread over Jalna, Aurangabad, Nashik and Mumbai. During the search operation, several incriminating evidences have been found and seized.”“The initial analysis of seized evidences of both the groups has revealed that they were engaged in large scale tax evasion, resorting to inflation of expenditure through bogus purchases from several entities. These entities have also been found to be involved in GST frauds. Evidence has also been found of excess stock of raw materials, not recorded in the books of account, exceeding Rs 120 crore.”An officer said on examination of evidence related to one of the businessmen, it was further revealed that the group has indulged in layering its unaccounted income through bogus unsecured loans and share premium, obtained from Kolkata-based shell companies.“The search team has also detected a large number of lockers of both the groups, opened in the names of employees of the companies, which were maintained with a co-operative bank. During the raid, over 30 bank lockers, including several lockers in the co-operative bank, were searched. Huge unaccounted cash and gold jewellery have been seized from these lockers,” the officer added.Furthermore, a substantial amount of unaccounted cash has been seized from a secret room located on the farm house belonging to one of the groups.
Late on Wednesday (August 10) evening, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced it had cancelled the banking licence of the beleaguered Pune-based Rupee Cooperative Bank, and directed the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to liquidate the bank. What does it mean for the over 5 lakh depositors in the bank?What is a banking licence?Financial institutions wishing to carry out banking operations such as accepting deposits or lending have to obtain a licence from India’s central bank. The RBI issues the licence under the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 after carrying out a series of checks about the financial suitability of the applicant institution.Parameters like capital adequacy ratio (CAR) — the ratio of a bank’s available capital to its risk weighted credit exposure — and loan to deposit ratio (LDR) — the ratio of a bank’s total loans to total deposits in the same period — are checked before the licence is granted. The 1949 Act in particular stresses on adequate capital and protection of the public interest before the licence is granted.No company other than one that has been issued a banking licence is allowed to use the word bank in its name while doing business. RBI, which issues the licence, has the power to cancel it as well, in case the bank fails to satisfy laid-down conditions. This could mean an increase in bad debts — and if the RBI feels a bank does not have enough capital to cover its exposure and pay its depositors, its licence can be suspended or cancelled.Why did RBI cancel the licence of Rupee Cooperative Bank?The RBI audits banks every year, and can take action if it notes an increase in bad debts or other suspicious activities in their books. In its press release issued on August 10, the RBI gave the reasons for the cancellation of the bank’s licence:“ * The bank does not have adequate capital and earning prospects. As such, it does not comply with the provisions of Section 11(1) and Section 22 (3) (d) read with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949;* The bank has failed to comply with the requirements of Sections 22(3) (a), 22 (3) (b), 22(3)(c), 22(3) (d) and 22(3)(e) read with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949;* The continuance of the bank is prejudicial to the interests of its depositors;* The bank with its present financial position would be unable to pay its present depositors in full; and* Public interest would be adversely affected if the bank is allowed to carry on its banking business any further.”Section 22 of the Act deals with “licensing of banking companies”, section 11 is about “requirement as to minimum paid-up capital and reserves”, and section 56 is about the applicability of the Act to cooperative societies, subject to modifications.Was cancellation of the licence the only option left for RBI?RBI had issued notice to Rupee Cooperative Bank in 2013, and issued directions under the Banking Regulation Act before cancelling its licence. All banking activities like withdrawal were suspended, the then board of directors was superseded, and senior officials from the cooperative department and veteran cooperative banker Vidyadhar Anaskar were put in charge. Sudhir Pandit was subsequently appointed administrator.Pandit took a number of steps to revive the bank, including filing of criminal cases against defaulting directors, employees, and seizing of their properties. The RBI extended the licence of the bank every three months as these steps were being taken.The administrator also tried to merge the bank with a financially stable bank. But the bad debts scared away most suitors. The Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank had expressed interest, but the merger was not cleared by the RBI.What will happen to the depositors’ money in Rupee Cooperative Bank?The limiting of withdrawals by RBI had made things difficult for depositors, especially because cooperative banks are preferred by those from the lower income group. The big question before the over 5.5 lakh depositors now is about the fate of their money.The RBI has said that depositors with Rs 5 lakh or less in the bank (in the form of any financial instrument like fixed deposits or savings accounts, etc.), would get back all of their money through the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC).According to the RBI, “more than 99% of the depositors are entitled to receive full amount of their deposits from DICGC”, and “as on May 18, 2022, DICGC has already paid ?700.44 crore of the total insured deposits under the provisions of…the DICGC Act, 1961 based on the willingness received from the concerned depositors of the bank”.Those who have larger deposits in the bank will not get back their money beyond Rs 5 lakh. In this group are about 4,600 depositors with a total Rs 340 crore in deposits in the bank. These people stand to suffer major losses.The RBI has appointed the commissioner of the cooperative as the liquidator who would carry out the process of liquidation of the bank. Once the depositors are paid, the liquidator will sell the assets of the bank to recover as much of the bad debt as possible.