The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a preliminary investigation into the multi-crore banking fraud in which the city Corporation and a few private individuals collectively lost ₹21.5 crore from their bank accounts with the Punjab National Bank. An inquiry is under way into the incident based on an audit report recently submitted by the bank authorities on the lost funds and the details so far collected by the district Crime Branch.
According to Crime Branch sources, the CBI investigation is a natural procedure in money-swindling cases above ₹3 crore. The probe will primarily check whether such fraud, using the money of local bodies in the district, has been committed in any other public, private, or cooperative bank. The case is likely to be taken over by the CBI with the State government’s permission if more such cases emerge from the preliminary investigation, they said.
No digital evidence
Though M.P. Rijil, the prime suspect, who was the bank manager, is accused of taking away ₹15.24 crore from the seven accounts of the Corporation, the bank authorities have so far confirmed the loss of only ₹12 crore. The investigation team has not succeeded in retrieving digital evidence that confirms his using the money for online games.
The accused has been at large for over a week, which is also attributed to the delay in collecting incriminating evidence. Though a few crucial bank documents related to the illegal transactions are available with the Crime Branch team, efforts are still on to retrieve more digital documents that can prove the suspect’s role in spending it on online games and stock purchase.
“The case will not stand in court in the event of a hasty arrest and remand without collecting incriminating documents,” said a senior police officer who is monitoring the probe. He said Rijil would not be able to avoid arrest for long as many agencies were keenly monitoring the inquiry progress.
Meanwhile, uncertainty still persists over the procedures to credit the lost funds to the accounts concerned. Though the Corporation has already received a small portion of the lost amount, there is no information yet about the payment of the remaining funds. About 10 private account holders who together lost about ₹6 crore are yet to get any intimation on the compensation measures.