Patna, Aug. 9: The state government today ordered a probe into alleged embezzlement of government funds worth over Rs 250 crore in Bhagalpur district after chief minister Nitish Kumar flagged the issue while speaking out against corruption at a public function.
The money allocated under the Mukhya Mantri Nagar Vikas Yojana was diverted to the bank account of a non-government organisation, Srijan Women Development Cooperative Committee Limited, Bhagalpur, allegedly to siphon off public money.
A five-member team headed by inspector-general, economic offences unit (EOU), Jitendra Singh Gangwar was sent to Bhagalpur by a special chartered plane of the government this evening after Nitish raised the issue at a function organised to mark Earth Day.
"An irregularity of Rs 250 crore in public funds has come to light in Bhagalpur. Officials are looking into it," Nitish said.
Soon after reaching Bhagalpur, the probe team summoned the NGO's secretary, Sarita Jha, and other office-bearers to the Bhagalpur circuit house and quizzed them for several hours. Authoritative sources said the manager of Indian Bank and other bank officials have also been detained for interrogation.
The matter came to the fore late last month when a cheque of Rs 2.5 crore issued by Bhagalpur district magistrate Adesh Titarmare was dishonoured by Indian Bank. Titarmare ordered an investigation, which revealed that a sum of Rs 10.26 crore had been fraudulently withdrawn by Srijan cooperative committee from Indian Bank using a forged signature of the DM.
The clerk of the Bhagalpur Nazarat (treasury), Amrendra Kumar Yadav, lodged an FIR with the Bhagalpur Kotwali police station on Monday alleging that a sum of Rs 10.26 crore had been siphoned off by the Srijan Women Development Cooperative Committee Limited in collusion with officials of Indian Bank. Two other employees of the district treasury, Om Prakash Srivastava (chief nazir or accountant) and Nand Kishore Malviya (head clerk), were made witnesses in the FIR.
The genesis of the problem dates back to September 2014. The district administration opened a bank account with Indian Bank's Patal Babu Road branch in Bhagalpur to carry out development work under the chief minister's urban development scheme. On September 27, 2014 a sum of Rs 12,20,15,75 (approximately Rs 12.20 crore) was transferred to Indian Bank from Oriental Bank of Commerce where the district administration had its official account.
Three days later, i.e. on September 30, 2014, the amount of Rs 12.20 crore was transferred to the Indian Bank account of Srijan Women Development Cooperative Committee Ltd. Two years later, between September 1 and September 6, 2016, a sum of Rs 5.50 crore was deposited in the bank account of Srijan through three forged cheques.
On Tuesday, a team headed by Bhagalpur deputy superintendent of police (city) Saharyar Akhtar raided the Sabour-based office of Srijan and seized documents. The team seized 10 cashbooks from 2013 to April 2017, account ledgers and papers of daily transactions.
EOU sources said similar complaints of funds diversion have been received from other districts also. A team of the finance department is looking into the matter.