Srinagar: Strife torn Jammu and Kashmir has been rocked by Rs 1100 crore loan scam involving top corporate honchos including Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, Chairman of Kolkata-based Rice Exports India (REI) Agro Ltd, Sandeep Jhunjhunwala, Vice President and Managing Director of the Company, and former JK Bank chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh.

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) registered cases against REI Agro Ltd and raided 16 locations — nine in Kashmir Valley, four in Jammu and three in National Capital region of Delhi—including the houses of Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, Sandeep Jhunjhunwala and Sheikh.

An ACB spokesman said enquiry was launched after allegations surfaced that “the officers/officials of J&K Bank Branch Mahim Mumbai and Ansal Plaza, New Delhi have sanctioned loan to the tune of Rs. 800 crore in favor of REI Agro Ltd, on fake documents and in violation of the laid down banking procedure during the year 2011 to 2013 which resulted in the accounts becoming NPA in the year 2014 thereby causing a huge financial loss to the bank”.

“During preliminary enquiry, it emerged that REI Agro, which has shown its Head Office at Kolkata and Corporate office at New Delhi, approached Mahim Mumbai Branch of JK Bank without having any office at Mumbai and got the loans/advances sanctioned in their favour worth Rs. 550 crores. The Vasant Vihar Branch of Jammu and Kashmir bank also sanctioned Rs 139 crores in their favour against Supplier Bill Discounting Facility and takeovers”, said the spokesman.

ACB said despite the fact that it was known to the bank authorities and the company that the loan amount had to be disbursed among farmers for production of paddy which was brazenly violated by the company in connivance with the bank authority who allowed disbursement of loan through Joint Liability Group (JLG’s) though the company had already received the paddy and were not entitled to disburse the loan under such circumstance.

“As per probe, the JLG’s were in fact non-existent entity whose credentials and antecedents had never been verified by the bank. The objective was to facilitate the company to divert the loan amount for its own benefit. The bank also violated NABARD guidelines where members of JLG’s (which is a group of farmers) should be from the same area/village, but this aspect was deliberately and with malafide intentions ignored by the bank officers”, he said.

ACB spokesman noted that the crop loan in fact had been recommended against the securities of hypothecation of receivables of farmers/JLGs for supply of paddy to REI Agro and corporate guarantee of the company along with postdated cheques (PDCs), which cannot be construed as a tangible security.

“These loans/advances were sanctioned/ disbursed by the officers/ officials of JK Bank Branch Mahim, Mumbai and Vasant Vihar, New Delhi in connivance with and under patronage of then Chairman J&K Bank Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh under single conspiracy spread over several years, in a planned and pre designed manner by misuse and abuse of their authority as public servants of the bank, just to serve the interest of the promoters of REI Agro Ltd”, he said.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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