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Banking scam worth Rs 2,654 crore alleged involving Gujarat's "crony" businessman having links with senior minister

By Our Representative
In a fresh "exposure", the Indian National Congress has come with a new scam, in which, it days, a senior minister in the Gujarat government known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a Vadodara-based businessman "blessed" by Modi are "involved" in "duping" 11 banks to the tune of Rs 2,654.4 crore.
Accusing the businessman of being involved in ‘murky dealings’, hidden under ‘cultural fests’ and crony businesses,Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera has named a senior minister in Gujarat's Vijay Rupani facilitated the scam to happen, adding, "active connections" of this businessman with the BJP have already been revealed through numerous photographs on social media.
Thus, Khera says, this businessman has been photographing, among others, with Modi, his railway (former power) minister) Piyush Goyal, former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel and present chief minister Vijay Rupani, and of course the senior minister with whom he is "linked."
Giving details, Khera, even as releasing documents and photographs, alleges in a note sent to media, the company run by this businessman "fraudulently" availed credit facilities "from a consortium of 11 banks, with Axis Bank being the lead bank, as it clear from a CBI FIR, by submitting false stock statements, extensively utilizing cash credit limits for obtaining large number of Letters of Credit."
Claiming that the company got bankrupt in 2016, leaving behind an outstanding loan of ₹2,654.4 crore, Khera says, it's owner has been "one of the chief financier of the BJP in Vadodara", adding, the BJP government in the state showered "public money" on Vadfest, "a large cultural fest in Vadodara where crores were spent to invite ‘A’ rank celebrities and film stars".
Organized in 2016 by this businessman, Khera says, "Never in the history, had a state created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through its tourism department to fund a specific cultural festival! The SPV, known as Vadodara International Art and Culture Festival Authority, was headed by the senior minister, who ensured they this businessman became chief organizer of the festival."
Ironically, the company this businessman owns, contends Khera, "primarily manufactures electric cables and equipment. At the expense of public money both organized a five-day global export festival in Vadodara. Then power minister Piyush Goyal and chief minister Anandiben Patel attended this festival, where 140 acres of forest land in Vadodara was converted in an exhibition centre and the state government spent crores of money."
Insisting that this businessman is "no stranger to financial frauds", Khera says, "In March 2015, he was arrested and released on bail by/the Central Excise for alleged fraudulent misuse of CenVAT credit and evading Excise Duty worth Rs 40 crore. In July 2016, another complaint was filed for allegedly selling off shares owned by a woman."
Khera accuses the company of submitting "false stock statements, extensively utilizing cash credit limits for obtaining large number of Letters of Credit. About 1,000 such Letter of Credit (LoCs) issued by Bank of India alone devolved, which included at least 16 LoCs amounting to Rs 110.79 crore issued in the name of another company, owned by this businessman and his family members.
The company, says Khera, "managed to get the credit facilities despite appearing in the Reserve Bank of India's Defaulters List and ECGC Caution List at the time of initial sanction of Credit Limits by the Consortium." He adds, the company accounts in Bank of India and Bank of Baroda "were declared NPA on February 16, 2016. Other banks declared company's accounts NPA from December 2017."

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