Rishi Agarwal of ABG Shipyard questioned by CBI in bank fraud case

NEW DELHI: Former Chairman and Managing Director of ABG Shipyard Ltd. Rishi Agarwal appeared before the CBI on Monday for questioning in connection with the Rs 22,848 crore alleged banking fraud, the biggest such case registered by the central agency, officials said.

The CBI had questioned him last week as well and would continue to record his statement in the coming days on various aspects of alleged diversion of funds as pointed out in the forensic audit conducted by banks, they said.

The central probe agency had registered an FIR in the matter on February 7, 2022 on a complaint filed by SBI 17 months ago on August 25, 2020.

The agency 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 Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, they said.

Immediately after filing the FIR, the CBI had 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 were being scrutinised.

The bank 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 filed a fresh complaint in August that year. After “scrutinising” for over one-and-a-half-years, the CBI acted on the complaint, filing an FIR on February 7, 2022.

Officials said the matter 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 SBI having exposure of Rs 2,468.51 crore, they said.

A forensic audit by Ernst & Young has shown that between 2012 and 2017, 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.

Source: Press Trust of India

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