PMC Bank scam: Auditor got junkets, high fees to keep shut

Mumbai: The scam-hit Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank Ltd had allegedly tried to influence its auditors by sending them on junkets to Goa and other places in order to keep them tight-lipped about the murky goings-on in the bank, official sources said here.

The PMC Bank also purchased properties on behalf of Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), which remained unpaid. It even bought certain properties at inflated rates.

These are some of the startling revelations that figure in the supplementary charge-sheet filed in the case by Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW), which is probing the matter for the past six months.

It added that among the PMC Bank auditors, one Jayesh Sanghani had previously helped the bank in different ways, including preparing financial statements for various projects, and was rewarded with kickbacks and free trips to Goa and other places.

Later, at the instance of PMC Bank's then Chairman S. Waryam Singh and Managing Director Joy Thomas -- both of whom have been arrested -- Sanghani had allegedly written to the bank's DGM Rebecca Solomon, advising that some of the HDIL's accounts may be knocked off the bank's list of non-performing assets (NPA).

The auditors allegedly prepared tailor-made bank statements as sought by Singh and Thomas to suppress the actual financial position of the bank, for which they were paid higher fees than normal.

The forensic audit of the bank conducted by the investigators said that PMC Bank utilised its stressed assets stabilisation fund to buy properties for HDIL to bypass the restrictions of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) which was hearing bankruptcy proceedings against the beleaguered company.

Besides properties in Mumbai, lands were bought in suburban Mumbai and even Virar town in Palghar in which the EOW will launch an independent probe soon, said the sources.

HDIL's top brass, including Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang Wadhawan, and several other top functionaries have been accused in the Rs 6,300 crore scam which erupted in September 2019, stunning the country's banking circles.

After investigation, the EOW had filed its first charge-sheet in the case in December last year which ran into nearly 33,000 pages, naming all the accused -- Singh, Thomas, the Wadhawans, ex-director Surjit S. Arora, and half a dozen others, besides 340 witnesses.

The charge-sheet also detailed how the PMC Bank management cheated the Reserve Bank of India which finally clamped down on the bank in September last year with a series of restrictions.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

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