Mumbai: Six people get life imprisonment for cheating Bank of India of Rs 2.5 crore

Mumbai: In a rare judgement, a CBI court on Friday awarded life imprisonment to six people, including a bank official, for fraudulently obtaining credit facility of over Rs 2.5 crore from Bank of India between 2000 and 2003.

Special judge S R Tamboli awarded the life sentence to Bhagwanji Joshi, the then AGM of Bank of India’s Mandvi branch, borrowers Manohar Lal Ahuja and his son Amit, and three others, Mahesh Bohra, Sandesh Nage and Shanti Lal Chauhan, who had played a role in forging documents.

The judge held the accused guilty under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), and 120 B (criminal conspiracy), as well as under the Prevention of Corruption Act. While passing the order, judge Tamboli observed that three of the accused were habitual offenders and had cheated various nationalised banks. All have committed an economic offence detrimental to the financial health of the country, he added.

According to the prosecution, Manohar and his son Amit had availed various credit facilities from Bank of India by forging documents between 2000 and 2003 for running a partnership firm. These, amounting to Rs 2.5 crore, were in form of cash and letter of credits. The accused had submitted existing stock of the company in a warehouse as well as a plot in Versova as security.

As per the prosecution, the accused did not use the money for business purposes but siphoned it off and used it for personal gain. The matter came to light in 2004 when the accused stopped paying the loan instalments and it turned into an NPA, following which the bank lodged a case with the CBI. – Agencies

An investigation revealed that the stock in the warehouse which was presented to the bank as security was non-existent, while the borrowers came up with an excuse that the stock was destroyed. The probe also found that the property they had mortgaged was non-existent as well.

Two of the accused, Mahesh Bohra and Sandesh Nage, had prepared a forged document to show that the property was purchased from one Mohanlal. However, during the probe it was revealed that there was no one called Mohanlal, and that another accused Shanti Lal Chauhan had misrepresented himself as “Mohanlal” and also forged his signature.

The relevant property actually belonged to Anushia Shah, who had given it to the government to create a joggers’ park. The court found that bank official Bhagwanji Joshi was not vigilant enough and sanctioned the loan without verifying the credentials of the borrowers.

Advocate Yunus Memon, who had created a title search report of the Versova property, calling it good and marketable, and had said that the bank could mortgage it, was also sentenced to three years in jail. As many as 39 witnesses, including bank officials, were examined during the trial, public prosecutor Jitendra Sharma said.

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