FIRs against Chennai-based firm for causing Rs 364-cr loss to 3 banks

Chennai: The Bank Security & Frauds Cell (BS&FC) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed three FIRs against Chennai-based Best & Crompton Engineering Projects Ltd (BCEPL) for causing Rs 364 crore loss to three public sector banks in a fraudulent manner.

The three state-run lenders which have suffered the losses are Central Bank of India (Rs 133 crore), Andhra Bank (Rs 71 crore), and Corporation Bank (Rs 159 crore). BCEPL had allegedly obtained loans from the three banks via falsification of accounts and submission of faulty statements.

Based on the banks’ complaints, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had conducted searches last month at residential and office premises of the key officials of BCEPL at Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. During the search proceedings, certain incriminating documents were recovered and seized for further investigation.

In addition, the ED inquiry resulted in the recovery and seizure of 126 rubber stamps of various shell companies from the business premises at Punjagutta area in Hyderabad. It was further revealed that BCEPL had also accommodated several companies of Sujana Group.

The seized documents indicated that BCEPL, along with other group companies of Sujana Group, were allegedly functioning under the chairmanship of YS Chowdary, a sitting Member of the Rajya Sabha, representing the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

During probe, it was further revealed that all the directors of various Sujana Group Companies allegedly acted under the instructions of Chowdary, which is evident by the e-mail correspondences and communications recovered from the business and residential premises of directors of BCEPL.

Further, in their voluntary statements tendered under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, directors of BCEPL stated that Chowdary is the person responsible for the entire activities of Sujana Group of Companies. Notably, these firms have allegedly rendered their signatures on the insistence of Chowdary, either directly or through the top leadership of Sujana Group of Companies.

Following the probe, it was noted that they are namesake directors and as such, had no idea how the funds of BCEPL were utilized and that the entire operations or transactions of Sujana Group of Companies are known only to Chowdary.

The CBI on Wednesday had conducted raids at eight locations-seven in Hyderabad and one in Delhi. The searches disclosed that the banks were defrauded by the Sujana Group of Companies to the tune of over Rs 5,700 crore.

The documents recovered from other premises exposed that various cases already existed against the Sujana Group of Companies. Similarly, documents related to foreign exchange transactions were also seized, which showed that BCEPL along with Sujana Group of Companies are controlling over 120 companies and most of them are non-operating firms without any genuine business activities.

Around six high-end cars were seized under the provisions of PMLA from the residential premises of Chowdary such as Ferrari, Range Rover, and Benz, which are registered in the name of fake companies.

Preliminary statements also indicated that certain loans to group companies were allegedly sanctioned against the personal guarantee of Chowdary. According to CBI sources, he has been asked to join further investigation by the issuance of the summons for his appearance on November 27, 2018.