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Classic case: Rs 12 cr transferred over phone Friday, April 13, 2001
AHMEDABAD: Investigations into the case involving transfer of money from bullion trader Arvind Dhanjibhai Choksi's account in the Classic Co-operative Bank have established that the Bank had transferred as much as Rs 12 crore to KL Choksi's account on the basis of a mere phone call!
However, speculations on the investigations in this case have come under a cloud for reasons cited as 'political' even as the case was transferred to the city crime branch, barely a week after the complaint was lodged.
Interestingly, the Central Bureau of Investigation had been already pursuing the matter after a complaint was lodged by Punjab National Bank. The CBI had also raided the premises of Arvind Choksi. But, says a senior police official, "it is doubtful whether this case will reach its logical conclusion, since so many agencies are investigating it".
A complaint was lodged at the Naranpura police station on March 27 by Arvind Choksi. In his complaint, Arvind Choksi accused the Classic Co-operative Bank of transferring his balance of Rs 12 crore to another account by way of forged vouchers and wrong entries. Cases of forgery, cheating and conspiracy were registered against the Bank chairman Suresh V Garecha, managing director Dinesh M Shah and manager Dinesh H Turkhiya following the complaint.
Interestingly, even after the police had on record the bank statement of entries, which showed the bank in the wrong, there had been no arrests.
Evidence forwarded by the local police to the crime branch show that Arvind Choksi held a current account in the bank and had reportedly spoken to the Bank on phone to transfer Rs 12 crore to KL Choksi's account against the gold he bought from the latter.
That the Bank carried out the transaction without a banking instrument was violative enough, but investigations have shown that the account did not have an overdraft facility and yet the bank provided an overdraft of around Rs 40 lakh. "Sometimes the bank can use its discretion for an OD in case of old customers," say sources.
Choksi, who owns a jewellery store by the name of 'Arvindkumar and company' in Manekchowk and is a bullion trader, told the police that when he last checked his current account No 435 at the Classic Co-operative Bank on March 16, it showed a balance of Rs 11,59,81,773. It was against this balance that the Bank transferred Rs 12 crore by pooling in the difference on the basis of what has been recorded as 'tele-talk' in the copy of entries.
Arvind Choksi claimed to have learnt about the transfer when he wrote a cheque for Rs 5 crore in favour of a party overseas, which bounced, police officials told TOI. No where did he mention before the police that he had indeed made that call to the Bank.
What is more intriguing is that the case which was under investigation of the Naranpura police, was given to Assistant Commissioner of Police (B division) PN Barot, and after a couple of days it was transferred to the crime branch.
"We wanted a detailed investigation to be carried out on this which is why it was transferred to the crime branch," says police commissioner PC Pande.
But sources say the move might only delay the investigation, "because the crime branch, with its staff problems, was barely equipped to handle such an investigation", says a senior police official.
What is being hushed up in investigations is Garecha's alleged relations to a senior BJP leader in the Gujarat Assembly. Sources say Garecha's brother had claimed before the police, when the investigations began, that "he was the brother-in-law of the Assembly speaker".
"But this is yet to be established," say police officials. When contacted, assistant commissioner of police (crime) Subhash Trivedi told TOI, "Since the CBI is already investigating the case we decided to only follow them up."
Meanwhile, the main accused, Garecha remains elusive.