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Delhi-based rice exporters flee after alleged bank fraud of Rs 414 crore, complaint filed after 4 years

New Delhi: Much like many other cases of bank fraud in the last few years, the directors of a Delhi-based firm are now learnt to have purportedly fled the country after allegedly defrauding six public sector banks of over Rs 410 crore. Interestingly, the State Bank of India, which is lead consortium member, had discovered the fraud in October 2016 and in the same year realised the directors have absconded but filed a fraud complaint with the CBI four years later in February 2020.

The Central Bureau of Investigation registered an FIR in the case on April 28, based on SBI's complaint on behalf of the consortium members. According to the FIR, Delhi-based Ram Dev International Limited, headed by MD Naresh Kumar, was engaged in exporting Basmati rice to Middle Eastern countries and had allegedly defrauded the six banks of a total of Rs 414 crore.

SBI, in its complaint, said that the accounts of Ram Dev International had been declared as Non-Performing Asset in January 2016 with an outstanding amount of around Rs 173 crore. In August and October of the same year, the bank had conducted inspections at the company's properties and found that all machinery installed at the facility was removed and that the directors were not available.

Significantly, the Haryana Police's Security Guards were deployed at the site and enquiries had revealed that "the borrowers are absconding and have left the country," as per SBI's complaint to the CBI. Moreover, on October 1, 2016, the Special Investigation Audit Report commissioned by the bank was submitted, despite which the bank did not submit the fraud complaint until 2020.

In fact, even in 2018, when another proprietor had filed suit with the National Company Law Tribunal trying to recover Rs 33.45 lakh in debt from Ram Dev International, it was made clear that all inspections had led to the complete absence of the directors from all factory and residential premises. NCLT documents show that multiple legal notices to the directors in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were returned as either "Gate is locked", "left the house without RTS", or "addressee left".

The CBI has booked the company along with its Director and MD Naresh Kumar, Director and Guarantor Suresh Kumar, Director Sangita and unknown public servants. When asked as to whether the agency would probe why the SBI had delayed submitting the fraud complaint by four years, officials said that is a matter for the bank to investigate internally.

In addition to SBI, the defrauded banks include IDBI Bank (Rs 12.27 crore), Union Bank of India (Rs 64.31 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 51.31 crore), Corporation Bank (Rs 36.91 crore) and Canara Bank (Rs 76.09 crore).

As per the fraud allegations in the complaint, the banks alleged that the directors had sold off plant machinery without informing them, circulated bank loan funds among a few of their known companies, thereby using borrowed funds for capital infusion and also circulated loan amounts to different companies.

The company also allegedly submitted fake proforma invoices, cited non-existent debtors and availed EPC disbursement from same security/proforma invoices.

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