The CBI has booked a Hyderabad-based construction company for allegedly swindling a consortium of eight banks of a whopping Rs 1,394 crore, officials disclosed on Thursday.
Totem Infrastructure Ltd, which worked as a sub-contractor for several major infrastructure companies, and its promoters Tottempudi Salalith and Tottempudi Kavita have been named in an FIR registered by the CBI on the basis of a complaint from the Union Bank of India, one of the eight banks, according to official sources.
The company had also figured in the list of the biggest tax defaulters compiled by the Income Tax Department in 2015 with an outstanding tax of over Rs 400 crore. The I-T department had in 2015 also announced a reward of up to Rs 15 lakh to informants for tracing the company, calling it untraceable, and other defaulters in the list.
The bank also alleged that the promoters were untraceable, but the CBI has zeroed in on their new place of residence and conducted searches on Thursday, the officials said. The CBI also issued a Look Out Circular against the promoters to prevent them from leaving the country and tracking their movements.
Union Bank alleged in the complaint that it suffered a loss of Rs 313.84 crore as the loans given to the company had become NPAs in June, 2012.
They said the total dues towards the consortium stand at Rs 1394.43 crore. It is alleged that the loans taken from the banks for various projects were diverted for purposes other than they were meant for and to personal accounts of the promoters.
According to a finance ministry official more such cases could tumble out as the government has ordered all banks to carry out an audit of all NPAs that exceed Rs 500 crore.
Jolted by the Punjab National Bank fraud, the finance ministry at the end of February directed managing directors of public sector banks to examine non-performing asset (NPA) accounts of more than Rs 500 crore for possible fraud and report any cases of wilful default to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The ministry had also set a 15-day deadline for PSBs to put in place an effective system to address rising operational and technological risks. These directions are part of the reforms that the government had packaged with the recapitalisation plan for banks.
Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar had also asked banks to involve the Enforcement Directorate and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence for any violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.