Woman held for Rs 96 lakh cheque

Patna police today arrested a woman from Arwal who had deposited a cheque for Rs 96 lakh at a nationalised bank in the state capital on November 13, five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation.

By Roshan Kumar in Patna
  • Published 6.12.16
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Patna, Dec. 5: Patna police today arrested a woman from Arwal who had deposited a cheque for Rs 96 lakh at a nationalised bank in the state capital on November 13, five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation.

Indu Pandey had deposited the cheque at the Kankerbagh branch of Allahabad Bank. The cheque was issued in the name of an NGO, Karpi Samanvay Samiti, from a State Bank of India (SBI) branch in Lucknow.

A few days later, the Allahabad Bank came to know that the cheque was fake as no such cheque was issued by the SBI branch concerned. The cheque number did not match with the SBI's cheque list records.

Allahabad Bank lodged a police complaint today and Indu, who had gone to the Kankerbagh branch to enquire if the money had been deposited, was initially detained and interrogated by the Patna police and later arrested. She has been booked under charges of cheating and forgery under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code.

"The woman reached Patna today to ask about her cheque details at Allahabad Bank," said Kankerbagh police station house officer (SHO) Suresh Prasad. "Bank officials brought the woman to the police station."

The SHO said Indu told the police that an acquaintance of hers, Rajaram Pandey, had asked her collect the cheque from another person. After she collected the cheque from the man, Rajaram had asked her to deposit it in Allahabad bank, the SHO said.

The police are trying to gather details about Rajaram, who runs the NGO, and the NGO's sources of funds.

"The police will work with bank officials to find out how they have managed to get a fake cheque of the country's biggest bank, State Bank of India," the SHO said.

Allahabad Bank has also started an internal probe.

"The bank vigilance cell will conduct the probe," said Prashant Kumar Sinha, deputy general manager, Allahabad Bank.

He said that after demonetisation, banks are keeping extra vigil on big transactions. As the cheque amount was huge, the bank officials became suspicious when it was deposited, thus sparking the chain of events that resulted in the discovery that the cheque was fake.

"The bank staff have been asked to pay extra attention whenever they discover payments or withdrawal of huge sums of money," Sinha said.

Days before, the income tax department had detected Rs 40 lakh deposited in the Jan Dhan account - government zero-balance accounts meant for getting poor people into the banking umbrella - of a woman from Bihar.

The money had been deposited in the account of Sitara Devi, a resident of Nehru Nagar area of Ara in Bhojpur, around 55km west of Patna, after November 8.

Sources said deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have surged by over Rs 20,000 crore in the last three weeks after the Centre scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, leading to government concern that tax evaders are using the poor to legalise their black money.

Since demonetisation, the total balance in these accounts has crossed Rs 66,000 crore.

As of November 9, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636 crore. I-T sources said countrywide, 18 Jan Dhan accounts saw heavy transactions after November 8. I-T departments have also sought bank account details of Jan Dhan account holders where over Rs 10 lakh was deposited after November 8.