Mumbai: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday sentenced a 51-year-old proprietor of a private firm in a 24-year-old bank fraud case to four years of rigorous imprisonment. The man had been absconding for 17 years after securing bail in 1999.
Special CBI judge SU Wadgaonkar imposed a fine of Rs 17 lakh on Pragnesh Mehta, a Gujarat resident, finding him guilty of cheating and criminal conspiracy.
Prosecutor Jitendra Kumar Sharma said Mehta was arrested in July 1998 and had managed to secure bail in March 1999. Thereafter, he stopped attending court and was proclaimed an absconder by the court in 2003. The trial against his two co-accused Vijay Edjgaonkar, branch manager of Allahabad Bank’s Bhandup branch and Bhalchandra Sathe, assistant manager of the bank’s branch had been separated. The trial ended in their conviction in 2012.
The CBI managed to apprehend Mehta only in October 2016 from Gujarat where he had been living in a rented accomodation changing his firm's name. He remained in judicial custody thereafter and again got bail the following year in October.
As per the CBI’s case, Mehta in connivance with his co-accused had cheated the bank of Rs. 17 lakhs in March 1996. The bank officials had allegedly used their official position to dishonestly permit a clean advance of the amount to Mehta through his proprietary firms. Mehta misappropriated the amount for his own benefit. The probe had revealed that earlier too the bank officials had done so on various occasions and favoured Mehta.