Monday, 19 December 2005

Charminar Bank Scam: Bank is dead but its scams are not

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 19: The Charminar Bank is dead but its scams are not. A fresh scam has been unearthed even as the State government is gearing up for speedy recovery of dues from major defaulters through public auction of their properties.
According to sources, an official in the recovery cell of the scam-tainted Charminar Bank has "short calculated" interest on the principal amount borrowed by an industrialist.
And when the Bank decided to take punitive action against the erring official, a senior minister and a senior official in the Registrar of Co-operative Societies (RCS) brought pressure on the management to hush up the case. The management simply washed off its hands by transferring the official and ordering an inquiry.
Sources said bank official Mehdi Hussain Jaffry had short calculated interest to the tune of Rs 30 lakh on a principal amount of Rs 5.3 crore borrowed by industrialist Virender Giri in the name of five different companies owned by him. Instead of showing Rs 6.10 crore as outstanding balance against Giri's companies, the official showed Rs 5.8 crore in the balance sheet.
The irregularity came to light during the meeting of the bank's managing committee held on December 9. The bank officials immediately decided to suspend Jaffry but adjusted it with a simple transfer following pressure from a senior minister. A senior official of the RCS is also said to be lobbyingthe case of Giri.
Charminar managing director V Prabhakar agreed that Jaffry had been transferred following detection of some irregularities. He, however, refused to divulge further information stating that an inquiry had been ordered and he would comment after the inquiry officer Bhadri Narayana submitted his report.
The minister and the RCS official are also reportedly bringing pressure on Charminar Bank to settle Giri's loans under One Time Settlement scheme. But the bank officials refused to take the case under OTS since one of the bank's directors had stood as a guarantor for Giri's companies. Under RBI rules such loans should not be covered under OTS scheme. A senior official who is retiring this month-end is said to be interested in the OTS scheme for Giri's company.
Charminar NRI Depositors' Association convener MA Taher demanded that the government should order a CID inquiry into the irregularity to bring out the brains behind the fresh scam. He wanted the properties of defaulters to be auctioned immediately to raise funds for distribution among depositors, due for March 2006 under the revival scheme.

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