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RBI may supercede two other co-op banks too

BS Regional Bureau

The Reserve Bank of India is likely to recommend the supercession of all the three district cooperative banks which find themselves in the eye of a storm after the Nagpur District Central Cooperative Bank on April 25 reported that five broking firms had "defaulted on commitments" and it stood to lose Rs 1.25 billion invested in government securities.

The other two banks, Wardha District Central Cooperative Bank and the Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank have also lodged separate police complaints.

The case found echo in the Maharashtra Legislative Council and the chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who also holds the cooperation portfolio, was grilled over the issue.

The chairman of NDCCB, Sunil Kedar, is also a senior leader of the Nationalist Congress Party a member of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra.

The case was subsequently transferred to the Maharashtra Crime Investigation Department.

The Wardha District Central Cooperative Bank and the Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank were holding cheques worth Rs 280 million and Rs 500 million, respectively, issued by Home Trade Securities on a Mumbai bank.

After the cheques were dishonoured they filed complaints of cheating against the promoters of Home Trade Securities, one of the 5 broking firms named in the scam. The complaints are still with the police and are yet to be handed over to the state CID.

The complaint filed by the Wardha District Central Cooperative Bank names the directors of Home Trade including Sanjay Agrawal, N L Trivedi, Ketan Seth, Subhodh Bhandari, Manoj Shah, Dhananjay Agrawal, Allan James McMilan, Russel B Crozer (Jr), Shashank Ranade, Salil D Gandhi and Vijay Kumar H Modi as the accused.

The complaint was filed on April 26 after cheque numbers 695186 and 695187 worth Rs 26,75,000 and Rs 1,28,12,500 dated April 20 bounced. Similar was the case with Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank.

These banks have witnessed heavy withdrawal pressure ever since the matter was reported by the media.

A demand of Rs 2 billion was made on the NDCCB and the RBI is now entering the picture and is expected to ask urban cooperative banks to prefer their requests on the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd giving reasons for the same.

Given the publicity the case has received the CID investigating officer superintendent of police, Vivek Phansalkar refuses to divulge any details. "The investigation is on," is all he would say.

The police have seized Kedar's passport on instructions from Mumbai. The passport was in fact, surrendered to the police by Sunil Kedar's father, veteran cooperative movement leader Babasaheb Kedar, the day a report regarding the chief minister making such a statement appeared in the press.

Meanwhile, several directors of the NDCCB and the Wardha District Central Cooperative Bank have said they had little hope of the money coming back.

"Justice will have been served if the culprits are arrested and the guilty made to serve time," said Ashish Deshmukh, a director with NDCCB.

A known Kedar-baiter and the son of former Maharashtra minister Ranjit Deshmukh, he also welcomed the recommendation of the RBI.

Babasaheb Kedar addressed a press conference on Thursday evening and said he was pained at the reports. A visibly upset Kedar said his son should be brought to book if he was proven guilty.

He was addressing the press conference to clarify that none of the cooperative societies he started in the past 40 years had defaulted on payments against loans and that the NDCCB had never granted undue favours to any of the organisations with which he was associated.

Babasaheb Kedar confirmed that Sunil Kedar was at home in Nagpur.

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