Seva Vikas Co-op Bank Fraud: ED to take forensic help to retrieve erased data

Seva Vikas Co-op Bank Fraud: ED to take forensic help to retrieve erased data

ED’s probe has alleged irregularities linked to the grant of multi-crore loan by the bank and the money-trail associated with the beneficiaries.

Abhishek SharanUpdated: Thursday, February 23, 2023, 12:15 AM IST
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The Enforcement Directorate's (ED) money-laundering probe related to Pune’s Seva Vikas Co-Operative Bank will take forensic help to retrieve certain data that were allegedly erased by those under the scanner in the case, agency sources said. ED’s probe has alleged irregularities linked to the grant of multi-crore loan by the bank and the money-trail associated with the beneficiaries.

Last October, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had cancelled the bank’s licence on grounds that the lender did not have adequate capital and earning prospects. The bank had ceased to operate with effect from the close of business hours on Oct 10, 2022, the RBI had said in a statement. Allegations had surfaced regarding irregularities in loan disbursement then.

The agency’s probe claimed that the bank’s former Board of Directors had allegedly violated banking norms while sanctioning loans to certain ineligible shell entities to siphon off the funds. The agency’s scanner has loan funds worth Rs429.6 crore, spread across 126 accounts, which were declared as Non-Performing Assets (NPA). As per an audit report’s findings, these funds were allegedly misappropriated. Based on the audit report, additional multiple cases were registered against the loan beneficiaries and the bank management.

Last month, the agency had searched several premises – linked to alleged beneficiaries in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune – and the exercise had led to the seizure of incriminating documents and valuables/cash worth over Rs3 crore. During the search, ED had also recovered several digital devices and incriminating documents to assess the evidentiary value of their content. The ED, however, suspected that the data contained in a few phones under the case scanner were allegedly erased by the accused. “Through forensic methods, using cyber techniques, the data suspected to have been erased from a few phones under the probe’s scanner will be sought to get retrieved,” an agency source said.

The ED had begun its probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the basis of a case registered at Pune’s Vimantal police station against accused persons for alleged loan fraud. Subsequently, the Joint Registrar (Audit) audited the bank and registered cases against several accused persons.

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