Rs 442-cr cheating case: Charge sheet against airline, 5 others

Rs 442-cr cheating case: Charge sheet against airline, 5 others

The CBI has filed a charge sheet in a Delhi court against Paramount Airways Private Ltd, former CMD of Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd and four others for allegedly causing wrongful loss to five PSU banks and the insurance firm against which claims of Rs 442 crore were raised due to payment defaults by the airline.

In the charge sheet filed before special judge Pradeep Chaddah, the CBI said the accused conspired to cheat and cause loss to State Bank of India, Bank of India, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank and IDBI and Oriental Insurance Co Ltd (OICL), a government undertaking, which had to bear claims of Rs 442 crore on default of payment by Paramount Airways to the banks.

The CBI alleged that Chennai-based Paramount Airways had taken credit insurance from Oriental Insurance for its multiple bank guarantees to cover its transactions with state-owned oil companies.

As the airlines defaulted in paying to oil companies under the contract guarantee, the oil companies invoked bank guarantees and the banks in turn raised the claims of Rs 442 crore on OICL, it said.

"The case was registered in July 2011 on complaint against Ramadoss and others for causing wrongful loss to the government of India i.e., OICL and five PSU banks in the content of claims of Rs 442 crore lodged on OICL by the banks on account of default of payment by Paramount Airways to the banks," the CBI said.

Besides the airline, M Ramadoss, the then CMD of OICL; M Thiagrajan, MD of the airline; V Harshvardhan, former deputy general manager of OICL; Niraj Kumar, OICL general manager; and Chandra Shekhar Tandon, DGM of OICL, have also been named as accused in the charge sheet.

The probe agency said that Ramdoss of OICL entered into a criminal conspiracy with Thiagrajan, abused his official position and favoured the Airline in issuance of 220 credit insurance policies during 2005-10.

The credit insurance policies were used in securing multiple bank guarantees from SBI, BoI, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank and IDBI to cover its transactions with PSU oil firms and to meet expenses relating to fuel, aircraft, lease, rent airport charges and others, it said.

"On default of Paramount Airways, the oil companies invoked bank guarantees and in turn, the five banks raised claims to the extent of Rs 442 cr on OICL," the agency said.
Even when some officials were reluctant to issue credit policies to Paramount Airways for want of requisite documents, Ramadoss convinced Thiagrajan to give exclusive mandate on aviation insurance to OICL, it said.

It said the credit policies were issued to Paramount in absence of proposal form and without seeing the financials and credit requirement of the Airline, without understanding the risks and without it having any re-insurance support and the banks were never roped in while accepting the risk.

"The entire sum insured was in the net of the company's account. Claims were lodged by the  banks for Rs 441 cr which was to be absorbed by OICL as no recovery of this amount was possible in absence of re-insurance support (with Paramount)," the charge sheet said.

The agency also said that Paramount was "reluctant in disclosing its financials during 2007-09 with OICL due to its poor financial health and negative credit worthiness".
All the accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating under the IPC and also under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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