New Delhi, Nov 24: After two of its top officers were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly sanctioning loans in return for bribes, the LIC is likely to suspend them pending probe. The LIC board will meet on the issue soon.
A total of eight people have been arrested by the CBI. Among them: Ramchandran Nair, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LIC Housing Finance; RN Tayal , General Manager of Bank of India; and Venkoba Gujjal , Deputy General Manager of Punjab National Bank
"A private financial services company, its CMD and other associates were allegedly bribing senior officials of public sector banks and financial institutions for facilitating large scale corporate loans. They were also gathering confidential business information from financial institutions," the CBI had said.
The private company involved is Money Matters, and three of its senior-most officials, including Chairman and Managing Director Rajesh Sharma have been arrested.
The men at Money Matters allegedly acted as middlemen, bribing officials at public sector banks to get loans worth crores sanctioned for private firms, mainly real estate companies. The bank officials are also accused of selling confidential information.
In another case, Naresh Chopra of LIC Mumbai has been accused of receiving Rs. 16 lakhs from Money Matters’ Rajesh Sharma. Chopra allegedly traded confidential information on LIC investments into the Adani Group.
Meanwhile, LIC’s Vigilance arm is also investigating the case independently. Sources in LIC have told NDTV that the frauds were committed in the officers’ own capacity, and no norms were violated. In a statement released after the arrests on Wednesday, LIC had said, "All procedures and approved guidelines were adhered to in approving the loans. All loans have been secured by underlying assets to the satisfaction of approving authority. Steps will be taken to protect interests of various stakeholders."
’’These are cases of bribery. These are cases of corruption. Bribery by public officials, by people working in public sector organisations, and facilitating and sanctioning loans by taking money. And they have zeroed in on real-estate sector and certain developers who must have paid money to get loans sanctioned,’’ said Deepak Parekh, the chairman of HDFC Bank.
The government has sought to play down the episode. Speaking about the finance racket, Banking Secretary R Gopalan said it was a bribery case involving some individuals and not a large-scale scam. "It’s a case of individual greed not a systematic failure," he added. (Watch)
The arrests came after a CBI investigation that covered five cities and lasted over a year.
Taped conversations referred to in the CBI’s First Information Report (FIR) revealed incriminating details.
The CBI charges that Rajesh Sharma of Money Matters paid a Rs. 25-lakh bribe to RN Tayal at the Bank of India. In return, Tayal allegedly assured him of two loans worth Rs. 500 crore for two different companies.
"If you can’t get a 300-crore project passed... what is the use of you being in this position?" asks Sharma brazenly.