Kerala High Court orders CBI inquiry into Kozhikode PNB scam of Rs 12.5 crores

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The Kerala High Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a probe into a case involving a former Senior Manager of Punjab National Bank (PNB) accused of defrauding the bank of more than Rs. 12.5 crores.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, presiding over a Single Bench, stated that the local police investigation had already revealed the accused’s fraudulent activities resulting in a loss of over twelve and a half crores of rupees for the bank. Considering the gravity of the matter and the applicable regulations, the court found it necessary to assign the investigation of Crime No.780/2022 of Kozhikode Town Police Station to the CBI.

The complaint made by PNB against the accused, who was the former Senior Manager of the bank, alleged offences punishable under Sections 409 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The accused was accused of cheating and defrauding both PNB and the Kozhikode Corporation for an amount exceeding Rs. 98,00,000/-. However, during the local police investigation, it came to light that the amount involved had escalated to more than twelve and a half crores of rupees.

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The petitioner relied on the Reserve Bank of India (Frauds Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks and Select FIs) Directions, 2016, issued under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which stipulated that financial frauds exceeding three crore rupees should be investigated by the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch if there is clear involvement of banking staff, or by the Economic Wing of the CBI if staff involvement is not prima facie evident.

Acknowledging that the crime was indeed registered against the former Senior Manager of PNB, the court highlighted that the amount involved in the alleged offence had reached Rs. 12,81,39,000/- (twelve crores eighty-one lakhs and thirty-nine thousand only). Accordingly, the High Court ordered the Police Inspector to inform PNB about the crime, allowing the bank to take over the investigation and complete it as quickly as possible. Consequently, the writ petition was disposed of by the court.

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