A branch manager of Punjab National Bank (PNB), Colaba, has been arrested for allegedly colluding with an employee of a trust to create duplicate Fixed Deposits (FDs) worth Rs 1.22 crore and siphoning off the money.]
The accused, Ravi Kumar Saxena, has been suspended from his job. He is alleged to have submitted bogus FD receipts in the branch and availed a loan to another individual, who later defaulted.
The police investigation revealed that Saxena, along with an absconding bank employee, submitted forged FD receipts in the bank and siphoned off the money.
The complaint in the case was filed by the chairman of the trust (Jain Shwetambar Terapanth Samiti Airoli), Hemant Jain. The trust had an account in Abhyudaya Cooperative Bank in Airoli, where it had kept Rs 1.22 crore in FDs. In 2018, due to rumors about the bank’s financial health, the trust decided to transfer its FDs to another bank.
The trust’s employee, Sohan Singh Rajpurohit, suggested that the trustees transfer the FDs to PNB Colaba, where he knew a senior employee who could help them. The trustees visited the bank and opened an account, with two bank employees as witnesses. They also opened two FDs of Rs 18 lakhs and Rs 92.69 lakhs for two years.
In 2023, during the trust’s audit, one of the trustees, Dinesh Bafna, asked PNB to furnish statements from April 2022 for filing income tax returns. However, the bank delayed in providing the statements.
Later, three to four trustees visited the PNB Airoli branch and asked for the trust’s statement. The branch gave them statements ranging from April 2, 2022 to June 4, 2023.
The trustees were shocked to see the statements. On October 11, 2022, Rs 93.06 lakhs and Rs 18.45 lakhs were deposited in the account, and on the same day, Rs 56,950 and Rs 1.07 crores were withdrawn. When the trustees questioned the bank staff, they were told to contact the mother branch in Colaba.
At the Colaba branch, the bank authorities informed the trustees that their KYC was not updated and hence the FDs had been freezed. Later in June 2023, when the trustees asked for a cheque book, the bank officials again gave false excuses and did not issue the book.
Finally, on August 25 this year, all the trustees met PNB’s senior branch manager, Ravi Kumar Saxena, who delayed in providing any information. During the inquiry, it transpired that both the FDs had been transferred to Sohan Singh Rajpurohit’s account.
When the trustees confronted Rajpurohit, he said that the bank officials had misappropriated the funds and were dragging him into the controversy.
The bank official informed the trustees that, as per the records, they had surrendered the FDs, which the trustees denied. The banker also showed them receipts with signatures of a trustee, Udamsingh, and rubber stamps of the trust, which were forged.
When the trust said that there was no Udamsingh and the signatures were forged, Saxena assured them that the entire amount would be transferred back into their accounts and sought two days’ time. He also requested them not to lodge any police complaint.
However, on August 31, the trust lodged a complaint of cheating with the Colaba police. The case was later transferred to the Cuffe Parade police station, as the PNB bank falls under its jurisdiction.