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Transaction review meet after fraud

The district administration has set a three-day deadline for the officials dealing with funds to present fresh and updated records on transactions. Cases would be lodged against those failing to provide the data by December 2.

“All the administrative officials dealing with funds, including block development officers, sub-divisional officers, district development commissioners and additional collectors, have been asked to present their updated cash books by December 2 after reconciling them with banks. The officials failing to do so would be directly held responsible for the recent financial irregularities and would be liable for strict legal action. Criminal cases might be lodged against them. No ‘showcause’ notices would be served, but the action would be tough,” an official of the district administration told The Telegraph.

The district administration issued the directive after the back-to-back encashment of cheques of the Patna District Welfare Office at banks outside the state forging the signatures of the Patna district magistrate and another official. First, Rs 3.56 crore was swindled using three forged cheques. Two of them — issued in favour of Gurudev Metal Industries and Global Solution Private Limited — were enchashed in two different banks in Chennai. The other issued in favour of Somanth Promotion Private Limited was deposited in a bank in Dhanbad.

The second swindling came to the fore on Thursday when Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said Rs 86 lakh (Rs 86,65,218) was siphoned off using two dud cheques bearing his forged signature and that of the district welfare officer. Issued in favour of Arvind Kumar and Pravin Singh, they were encashed in two different banks in Ranchi.

Sources said a chequebook was missing. Its 12 cheques were forged and used for withdrawing money between October and November.

“The district magistrate’s office is in touch with police,” the district administration official said.

The police claimed that they were close to a breakthrough. “Teams are camping in Chennai and Dhanbad. The cops have several leads now. A gang is involved in swindling,” Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj said.

According to the directive of the administration after the frauds, the officials concerned would have to check their records and give the details of the cheques issued, encashed or cancelled at the district magistrate’s office.

Sources said the district magistrate had earlier asked the officials to check the monetary records between June and July. “But the direction was not taken seriously. Had it been followed, the administration would have traced the misappropriation as the transactions in both the cases had been done in October and November,” the official said.