Aug. 28: The CBI today lodged a case against Calcutta-based industrialist Bipin Vohra and others for allegedly cheating Central Bank of India by obtaining a loan of Rs 139.05 crore with forged documents and using the money for purposes other than that stated.
According to a statement issued by the CBI today, Bipin Vohra and two other directors of his SPS Group’s Bengal India Global Infrastructure Ltd had entered into a “criminal conspiracy” with the directors of Bholanath Ingots Pvt Ltd, Gouri Iron Steel Pvt Ltd and Subhlabh Steels Pvt Ltd; and B.K. Newatia, the chartered accountant partner of Jaykishan Chartered Accountants, to defraud the bank.
The two other directors of Bengal India Global Infrastructure Ltd — which had a “projected sales turnover” of Rs 3,533 crore in 2012-13 according to the website of the company — against whom the CBI has lodged the case are Sanjukta Vohra and Arjun Kumar Santhalia.
The statement says the accused had “availed credit facilities from Central Bank of India, Mid-Corporate Branch, Kolkata, on the basis of false & forged documents and diverted the funds for the purpose other than for which the same was sanctioned and thereby cheated and defrauded the Central Bank of India to the tune of Rs 139.05 crores”.
The CBI today carried out searches at 15 places in Calcutta and Durgapur in connection with the case.
Earlier this year, United Bank of India had declared Bipin Vohra a “wilful defaulter” for allegedly failing to repay a loan of Rs 75 crore that had been granted to SPS Steels Rolling Mills Ltd, the flagship company of the SPS Group. A bank terms a borrower “wilful defaulter” when it feels the person is not repaying a loan despite having the money.
SPS Steels Rolling Mills Ltd has a plant in Durgapur and produces TMT bars used in the construction industry. The company had actor Sanjay Dutt as its brand ambassador.
Bipin Vohra, who had been nominated as the Congress candidate for the Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat this year but had withdrawn from the fray citing personal reasons, is the chairman and managing director of the SPS Group, which has interests in steel, trading, hospitality, real estate, entertainment, security services and food processing, among others. The SPS Group has a turnover of Rs 4,000 crore, according to its website.
None of the SPS Group firms is listed on stock exchanges and so, financial details are not readily available in the public domain.
Bipin Vohra rode the steel boom in 2004-08 and diversified into various businesses.
On July 31, Fortune Select Loudon — managed by Fortune Park Hotels Ltd, a subsidiary of ITC Ltd, and property of Embee Resources Pvt Ltd, headed by Bipin Vohra’s son-in-law Ranveer Singh — downed shutters. The building is set to make way for jewellery and designerwear showrooms.
Singh had told The Telegraph that the closure was “purely a business decision”.
“It was doing extremely well. We were having almost 100 per cent occupancy. It’s purely a business decision to close it because we realised the property could be put to better use,” he had said.
Bipin Vohra’s group had acquired Hotel Rutt Deen on Loudon Street. Rutt Deen Pvt Ltd, of which Bipin Vohra is the director, used to run the hotel before a management contract with ITC Fortune gave birth to Select Loudon in October 2010.
The SPS Group had joined hands with the Mani Group, a Calcutta-based real estate firm, to acquire the EM Bypass land parcel where Emaar had considered building a hotel. Later, the SPS Group also acquired stakes in Indo-American Electricals Ltd, Bharat Biscuit and Ascon Agro.