The ABG Shipyard scam is the largest the country has ever seen, surpassing even the PNB scam pulled off by diamantaire Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. As more details of the Rs 22,842 crore scam emerges, the ruling BJP party and the opposing Congress party are at loggerheads. State Bank of India (SBI), one of the impacted banks, who had filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), also said that there has been no delay in the filing of the case.
To begin with, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference that the ABG Shipyard account turned NPA during the Congress regime. "...in this particular case with that kind of a measurement, actually, I should say to the credit to the banks, they've taken lesser than what is normally an average time to detect these kinds of frauds," she said. The minister added that normally banks take 52-56 months of time to detect such cases and initiate follow-up actions.
BJP MP Prakash Javadekar added that every loan cleared for fraudsters were during the UPA regime. “Every loan given to fraudsters is during the UPA regime. Be it Mallya, Nirav Modi or ABG Shipyard. What UPA left for the Modi government is bad loans by phone banking with political connections. The NPA is Congress legacy,” he said in a tweet.
However, Congress too criticised the BJP. Rahul Gandhi said that the country did not see such frauds in the 75 years. “So far in the Modi era, there has been bank frauds of Rs 5,35,000 crore – in 75 years, no such fraud happened with the money of Indians. Such days of loot and deceit are good days only for Modi’s friends,” he tweeted.
INC General Secretary Randeep Surjewala said that despite SBI’s letter to the CBI regarding the impending fraud, no action was taken. “CBI, SBI & Modi Govt were writing ‘love letters’ to each other for years deliberately dragging it into bureaucratic wrangling as public money went down the drain and fraudsters gained,” he alleged.
The SBI, however, said that there has been no delay in filing a case. SBI in a statement said that a fraud is declared on the basis of forensic audit report findings, followed by a thorough discussion in joint lenders meetings. When a fraud is declared, an initial complaint is preferred with the CBI and based on their enquiries further information is gathered.
"In a few cases, when substantial additional information is gathered, a second complaint incorporating full and complete details is filed which forms basis for the FIR. At no point in time, there was any effort to delay the process. The lenders forum diligently follows through with CBI in all such cases," it said.
The CBI in a statement said that the fraud was committed primarily through huge transfers by ABG Shipyard to its related parties and subsequent adjustment entries. “It is also alleged that huge investments were made in its overseas subsidiary by diverting bank loans. The critical period of the investigation is 2005-2012,” the agency said.
Also read: CBI on how the ABG Shipyard fraud unfolded
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