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August 11, 2001 - August 13, 2001

MMCB scam :: Big Bull Ketan Parekh in CBI custody Monday, August 13, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Big bull Ketan Vinaychandra Parekh, a prime accused in the multi-crore Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB) scam, was remanded in one week's CBI custody by the Ahmedabad's metropolitan court on Saturday.

This is the second time when Parekh goes into CBI's custody. The accused has been taken to Mumbai by the bureau for questioning.

Metropolitan magistrate, PU Patel, of the metropolitan court at Meghaninagar heard special public prosecutor, Nishit B Mehta, who is CBI's counsel in the MMCB case , and Parekh's lawyer AD Shah before ruling that Parekh be handed over to the bureau.

Mehta had appealed for custody of 15 days, till August 24, to undergo custodial interrogation. To this, Parekh's lawyer pointed out that this was the second occasion when the CBI was seeking his custody and had questioned the move.

The court, after scrutinising the logic behind CBI's appeal for a second remand, directed that Parekh be placed in CBI custody for seven days and handed back to judicial custody by 3.30 pm on August 18 before the chief metropolitan magistrate of Ahmedabad.

Saturday being the second of the month and a day-off for the courts of law, the hearing was conducted at the magistrate's residence in Sarkari Officers' complex near Shilalekh housing complex in Sahibaug around 11.15 am.

The CBI's special counsel's appeal says: " in CR No. 67/2001 was registered on April 21, 2001, on basis of a complaint lodged by the administrator of MMCB, Ahmedabad. The allegations in brief are that the three accused -- Ramesh N. Parikh, Devendra Pandya and J.B. Pandya -- criminally conspired with beneficiaries of certain account holders during 1998 to March 13, 2001, the object of which was to defraud the MMCB to the tune of Rs 1030.04 crore ... The said beneficiaries were sanctioned advances against the overall aggregate permissible limit of Rs 475 crore ... committing breach of directives, circulars, rules and regulations of the RBI and in breach of law. Ketan Parekh is one such beneficiary."

The appeal added: "... it is alleged in the FIR that out of the 19 accounts in which withdrawals were allowed illegally ... 10 pertain to companies in which Ketan Parekh has interest. The total outstanding in respect of these 10 accounts is around Rs 800 crore."

Mehta has further revealed in his appeal that an official communication was received from the Swiss authorities pointing out that they were investigating the case of fraud and forgery in relation to an account of one Ketan Parekh and further they also said that the funds in the account were likely to be of Indian origin. This allegation was however refuted by Parekh in his anticipatory bail application filed with the Mumbai High Court on July 10. The bail application was dismissed by the court on July 26 and Parekh's period of no-arrest expired on August 9.

The custody-appeal adds: "... the accused was arrested at Mumbai ... In course of investigation a large number of documents have been seized and are under examination to finally arrive at utilisation of these funds by the accused Ketan Parekh and his group companies. ... actual recovery of the funds is also a matter of great public concern in as much as the MMCB Ltd is virtually been driven to liquidation and several middle class depositors are at risk of loosing their lives savings as a result of the fraud ..."

Mehta appealed before the metropolitan court: "Though, the accused has denied having any bank account in Switzerland in his anticipatory bail application, the same cannot be accepted at its face value and moreover the link between huge fiscal fraud in India and funds lying overseas cannot be ignored. The Swiss authorities have already frozen the said account."

Alleging that Parekh has knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the case and is aware of the funds' existence abroad, the CBI counsel added: "Under these circumstances the custodial interrogation of the accused is essential to unravel the intricacies of the huge fiscal fraud perpetrated by the accused."
Source - The Times of India

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Geet Sethi, he's a winner all the way Monday, August 13, 2001

FOR a person who has won the world professional billiards championship four times, besides the world amateur title twice, Geet Sethi comes across as your next-door guy, with a refreshing lack of attitude.

"As far as I can remember, I was always a sports freak and besides cricket, liked all ball games. I found billiards a very visually appealing game and it was actually watching my brother play at the Ahmedabad Gymkhana, that initiated my stint with the cue at the age of twelve," Geet discloses.

The turning point of his career, which spans almost two decades, was in 1985 when he won the world amateur billiards championship at 24, the youngest to do so. After winning the amateur billiards championship again in 1987, followed the world professional billiards championship titles in '92, '1993, '95 and '98.
Besides being Asian Billiards Champion in 1986, Asian Games Gold & Silver medallist 1998, Geet has also been the national billiards champion in 1982, '85, '86, '87, '88 and 97.

Geet has not only made a mark in billiards, but also snooker. Sample: International Pontins Snooker Champion in 1984 and the National Snooker Champion in 85, 86, 87, and 88.

Awards have come aplenty, the Padma Shri and Arjuna Award in 1986, (when he was just 25), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the K.K. Birla Sports Foundation Award in 1992. He also features in the Guinness Book of Records for being the first amateur to have recorded a 147 maximum in competition. When he won the 1992 world professional billiards championship, he also created a world record of a 1276-point break, the highest break made in competition in the last 50 years.

A Punjabi,, Geet's father, who worked in the civil aviation department at Delhi, moved to Ahmedabad in the late 60s. Geet completed his formal education in Ahmedabad with a MBA degree from the B.K. School of Management. Having worked in a corporate capacity with TOMCO (Tata Oil Mills Co) from 1983-94, Geet is now the Mumbai-based vice-president, corporate alliances, of Satyam Infoway. He, however, modestly says that his management background has not been really much used up till now and believes that "a hands-on experience is the best way to learn."

After a typical corporate week in Mumbai, weekends with his family, comprising of wife Kiran, son, Raag aged ten, and six-year old daughter Jazz, are what he looks forward to. "I have my usual Monday morning blues when I'm boarding my flight back to Mumbai. But I quite like my present job profile, so one keeps busy," says Geet, quite enjoying the transition from the cue to the mouse. A very online person, Geet is known to be a brisk communicator on the Net.

A music buff, Geet enjoys Pink Floyd as much as Govinda's songs. (witness the musical names of both his children, Raag and Jazz). Though wife Kiran (whom he met when as a NID student of visual communications, she had come to him to film the game), who didn't have a clue to the game, can play reasonably well now, son Raag was clued in for a month, "after which he lost interest."

While Geet contends that there is no one hot on the billiards scenario at present, he finds some bright sparks like Pankaj Advani in the under-15 category. Remarkably trim for his 40 years, Geet keeps himself fit, thanks to a proper diet and exercise regime, "I am very regular in my walks and do my ten-minute crunches religiously in the mornings."

Having no immediate plans to quit the game right now, Geet is, in fact, setting his sights on the Asian games to be held at Pusan (Korea) next year.
Source - The Times of India

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Countdown for fall of BJP govt has begun: Chaudhary Saturday, August 11, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Leader of Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary while reacting to state jails minister Jaspal Singh's hobnobbing with Samajvadi Party leader Mulayam Singh said the move indicated the beginning of the fall of the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Speaking to mediapersons here, Chaudhary observed that just as some creatures start abandoning a sinking ship, the dissident minister also has plans to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party. And not only Singh, some other dissident legislators were seen openly criticising the government. "Some of them have approached us," he said.

The GPCC president predicted that the Keshubhai Patel government in Gujarat and NDA coalition headed by Prime Minister Vajpayee would fall under their own weight and the countdown has begun for it.

He said it was really shocking that even officials and institutions were making the government their target for rampant corruption in administration. Pointing at Chief Vigilance Commissioner's remark regarding increasing corruption and irregularities, Chaudhary said: "He himself is supposed to curb the corruption." If need be, N Vittal should demand more staff and facilities to check the evil of corruption, but as chief of the commission he should have refrained from making such statements.

When asked about dismissal of his petition in the Vyara tree felling case, he said, "I have nothing to say on the court decision." However, he reiterated that he has been falsely implicated in the Vyara tree felling case. He said neither he nor any of his family member has indulged in any theft of wood.

News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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JUNAGADH :::: Legal row over Junagadh lake ends Saturday, August 11, 2001

JUNAGADH: The 13-year legal battle between the municipality and Gujarat Agricultural University over the possession of beautiful Narsinha Mehta Lake in the middle of Junagadh, has ended.

A Junagadh court has given the verdict in the university's favour thereby giving a powerful blow to the civic body.

The lake existing from the time of Nawabs, having survey no. 221/1-2, covers 104 acres land, and is worth crores. In 1988, the agricultural university had sued the municipality about ownership and sought court help to get its possession.

Under Saurashtra State 1956 notification, the municipality had declared it a wasteland. The university board of management passed a senate resolution, and gave the municipality possession in 1978. Then followed arbitration.

From the Nawab's time till today, the state government had maintained that the ownership of the Cattle Breeding Farm (as the spot was known) vested with the government.

On the government's behalf deputy mamlatdar gave oral witness and produced old records and proof.

The municipal chief officer had said that city gutters emptied into the lake and even the Dhobighat was located. Later the civic body had decided to build a multi-storey building on the site. So it sought its ownership and the possession and contended both were vested with the municipality.

Ultimately, senior civil judge A M Bhimani ruled that the lake ownership belonged to Gujarat Agricultural University.
Forensic lab official held

An official of the forensic laboratory who had changed samples two years ago surrendered to the police early this week.

On the instructions of Rajkot collector samples from M.K.Kotak petrol pump of Padadhari collected after a raid were sent to the laboratory. The analysis was done by forensic officer Chandanlal.

Suspecting his report, a complaint was lodged against him and Chandanlal was transferred to Jamnagar.

News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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IPCL land scam assuming gigantic proportions Saturday, August 11, 2001

VADODARA/AHMEDABAD: The Central Bureau of Investigations, which had registered a case in April this year involving purchase of land by Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited (IPCL) at an exhorbitant price of Rs 2.18 crore, seems to have stumbled upon a bigger land scam involving an amount of nearly Rs 32 crore.

Though the CBI, which is headquartered in the state in Gandhinagar, is yet to register the second case, sources said the agency is in the process of collecting documents relating to the second case. The first case, which was registered five months ago, involved the purchase of 35 acres of land in Dahej in Bharuch district at a cost of Rs 2.18 crore for a township for its employees.

The case has named former IPCL chairman K G Ramanathan, former director (finance) N Chander, a retired IAS officer N H Bijlani who runs NRD Associates and a real estate agent Jayanti Panchal. The CBI sources say the cost of the land was just around Rs 10 lakh, while an inflated price of Rs 2.18 crore was paid for it.

However, during investigations, the CBI has come across the bigger scam involving purchase of over 200 acres of land at a cost of Rs 34 crore. CBI investigators said the cost of the land should not have exceeded Rs 2 crore. "There is no doubt that an exhorbitant price was paid for the land. We are still in the process of collecting the documents," a CBI official said.

However, IPCL officials in the know of things say that it was not possible that only Ramanathan and Chander played a role in the deal. They are also asking why the case was filed long after Ramanathan and Chander resigned? Insiders say that officials of the personnel and administration department, which has to be a part of any deal involving land acquisition and housing of employees, were not being named in the case.

It is striking that the present Chief Vigilance Officer of IPCL, R C Bhatt, was in fact the executive director of the Gandhar project at the time this acquisition was made. Bhatt, on being contacted by TNN, said he was not involved in the investigation because the rank of the officials named was higher than what his jurisdiction allowed.

Investigations revealed that the inquiries could also be a manifestation of the intense rivalries between IPCL's top executives. Sources said that a complaint had been made to the ministry of petrochemicals which got the matter examined by a joint-secretary level officer before it was referred to the CBI. However, the CBI inquiries have revealed a much bigger scam than what has been hitherto presumed. Apart from getting the documents from IPCL itself, the CBI is also digging into the files of the revenue department of the state government to get the exact details.

CBI sources would not say whether a separate case would be registered for the second scam. However, none of the former IPCL men who have been named in the case have been examined by the CBI yet. Ramanathan, who is now working for a private petrochemicals giant in Mumbai, said he was not aware of these inquiries. He told TNN over telephone" "This (that the CBI had named him in the case) is news to me. It has come as a shock. As chairman, I have taken decisions, but all within the confines of the rules."

News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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