ED attaches Rs 3.82 crore siphoned off from wakf board's bank account

Money was transferred to a realty firm on the basis of forged letters

ED attaches Rs 3.82 crore siphoned off from wakf board's bank account

In a swift action, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has provisionally attached Rs 3.82 crore siphoned off from the Karnataka State Board of Wakfs.

The original case — about transfer of money from the board’s bank account to some accounts in Kerala and Pune — was registered at Chintamani Town police station.

In December 2016, the board, which has its office on Cunningham Road in Bengaluru, received a letter from the manager of Vijaya Bank’s branch in Chintamani, Chikkaballapur district. The letter, which later turned out to be forged, stated that
the board’s CEO had approved a proposal to invest Rs 4 crore in a fixed deposit in the bank.

The letter further stated that the board had passed an “office order” on the proposal in November 2016. Subsequently, two cheques, one for Rs 1.71 crore and another for Rs 2.29 crore, were cleared from the board’s account at Indian Bank’s Benson Town branch.

When the board enquired with the bank about receipts for fixed deposit (FD), it emerged that the money was transferred to the account of Ajay Sharma Trading Corporation, owned by one Vijay Pulijala, based on another letter (dated December 5, 2016) by the board, which too turned out to be forged.

Following a complaint by the board’s chief accounts officer, Tulasidas, the Chintamani Town police registered an FIR under various sections of the IPC.

The ED, too, swung into action and started an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The probe showed that the cheques were encashed on December 21, 2016, and that the entire amount — Rs 4 crore — was immediately transferred to other accounts, in the name of Verkeys Realties Private Limited, at HDFC Bank’s Edapally and Kochi branches.

The company splurged Rs 1.10 crore on a Mercedes-Benz car. The money was transferred to a dealer of used cars in Kalyan Nagar, Pune, the same day. The car dealer has an account at ICICI Bank.

The ED has managed to bring back Rs 2.72 crore lying at HDFC Bank’s Edapally and Kochi branches to the account of Ajay Sharma Trading Corporation at Vijaya Bank, Chintamani. It also brought back Rs 1.1 crore from ICICI Bank’s Kalyan Nagar branch.

An official said, “It was strange that the board evinced interest in keeping the FD in Chintamani, which is 70 km from Bengaluru, when there are many banks near its own office. The board did not care to verify the authenticity of the letter from Vijaya Bank. The bank officials also did not get back to the board before transferring the money to Ajay Sharma Trading Corporation.”

Police have arrested the Vijaya Bank branch manager, Susheela, and assistant manager Murukannappa.

A senior police officer said a local court had rejected their bail applications. Syed Siraj Ahmed, a first division assistant in the board, is a suspect, too. The officer said many people were involved in the case and that special teams had been formed to track them down.

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