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Bhushan Steel case: Trial against 283 accused would require stadium says lawyer Vijay Aggarwal

Munish Pandey     July 11, 2019

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal representing a few accused in the Bhushan Steel misused funds case said that the number of accused and chargesheet of over 70,000 pages by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) would require a stadium as this number of accused can't be accommodated in one court room.

Assuming one lawyer per accused, the total strength will cross over 570 plus which is almost impossible to accommodate in one court room, said the lawyer. According to Vijay Aggarwal, "As they are 283 accused persons, the trial cannot be held in the court room, they should have a stadium for the same. By arraying so many accused I guess SFIO has ensured that trial may not finish in the lifetime of the present lawyers and the accused persons."

Bhushan Steel has been chargesheet by the SFIO naming 283 accused. Apart from SFIO, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are also probing this case. According to the investigation agency, Bhushan Power & Steel Limited misused funds by fraudulently diverting Rs 2,348 crore (approx) from the loan account of Punjab National Bank (New Delhi and Chandigarh), Oriental Bank of Commerce (Kolkata), IDBI Bank (Kolkata) and UCO Bank (Kolkata) to the accounts of various shell companies without any obvious purpose.

Bhushan Power & Steel Limited allegedly diverted the funds through its directors and staff.

According to sources, "It has been alleged that the Bhushan Power & Steel Limited availed various loan facilities from 33 banks/financial institutions between 2007 and 2014 to the tune of Rs 47,204 crore and defaulted on repayments. Subsequently, the lead bank PNB declared the account as a non-performing asset followed by other banks and financial institutions.

According to the probe agency, the accused entered into a criminal conspiracy with unknown public servants of banks and others to cheat banks, financial institutions and the government exchequer.

"The accused dishonestly and fraudulently diverted huge amount of bank funds through companies/shell companies/entities etc and deliberately defaulted in repayment and also claimed inadmissible CENVAT [Central Value Added Tax] credit," said an officer.

According to the probe agency, the accused used the bank funds for purposes other than that sanctioned by the bank by committing forgery, using forged documents and falsifying the accounts causing a loss to the tune of Rs 2,348 crore to the lending banks, financial institutions and government exchequer.

Sources say the investigators are probing the entire Rs 47,204 crore which Bhushan Steel owes to these banks.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also issued a look-out-circular (LoC), against the chairman and vice chairman of Bhushan Power & Steel Limited, a company which took a loan of Rs 47,000 crore from banks which later turned into NPAs (non-profitable assets). LoC has been issued against Sanjay Singal, chairman of Bhushan Steel and his wife Aarti Singal, vice-chairman of the company.

Earlier, on April 6, the CBI conducted searches in multiple locations at offices and residential premises of New Delhi-based Bhushan Power & Steel Limited in connection with a Rs 2,348 crore bank fraud case. The searches were conducted in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Odisha.

Raids were conducted at the residential premises of the company's directors, promoters and their associates in the bank fraud case.

The agency filed an FIR against the firm, its directors, unidentified public servants and other private persons in the case.

Also read: Bhushan Power & Steel fraud: After PNB, more lenders may report misappropriation of funds

Also read: PNB detects Rs 3,805-crore fraud by Bhushan Power & Steel; accuses the firm of misappropriating funds, manipulating books

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