Rs.4600 crore fraud in SBI, PNB and 11 other banks, Bank employees under CBI enquiry

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against GTL Infrastructure Limited and officials of 13 banks, including SBI, ICICI, PNB and Axis Bank, for allegedly causing a loss of over ₹ 1,400 crore to banks. In January 2023, the CBI had registered a separate case against GTIL for defrauding banks of 4,600 crore.

GTIL, a group company of Global Group Enterprises promoted by Manoj Tirodkar, is engaged in the business of building and operating telecom infrastructure. It owns 27,729 telecom towers across the country.

The company had availed credit facilities from 19 banks since 2004 and in 2011 the company had outstanding dues of ₹ 11,263 crore.

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As the company failed to pay dues, it was referred to Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) in 2011. As CDR failed, banks opted Strategic Debt Restructuring in 2016, debt of 7,200 crore was converted into equity shares, with 4,063 crore as outstanding dues to be paid by the company to the banks.

A forensic audit in 2018 by the banks has revealed substantial amount of funds given by GTIL to vendors was written off and invested in M/s European Projects and Aviation Ltd or M/s Chennai Network Infrastructure Ltd, a sister concern of GTIL.

In June 2018, GTIL had an outstanding dues with 19 banks to the tune of ₹ 4,063 crore.

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The CBI in 2022 initiated a preliminary enquiry on the complaint that the bank officials colluded with the company and sold the aforesaid debt of ₹ 4,063 crore to M/s Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company (EARC) at a lesser price causing huge loss the banks.

According to the investigation report accessed by NDTV, Canara bank had dissented to the proposal of assignment of debt to EARC for just ₹ 2,354 crore citing “total depreciated value of the plant and equipment of GTIL was 7,945 crore and GTIL was having 27,729 telecom towers valued 10,330 crore”, which was way higher than the offer of EARC.

“Despite the dissent of Canara Bank and some other members of the consortium, 79.3 % of the outstanding dues amounting to ₹ 3,224 crore were assigned to EARC by 13 banks for a consideration of 1,867 crore causing huge wrongful loss to the banks”, states CBI’s investigation report.

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The CBI’s investigation has further revealed “at the time of assignment of debt to EARC in 2018, the banks were holding 64.97 % equity of GTL comprising 1212 Crore shares. The promoters were holding 19.52 % of equity. Despite that the banks did not choose to sell their equity in block deal or adopt the procedure under SARFAESI act to secure their loan from the collateral securities, the plant and machinery having a value of ₹ 7,945 crore”.

Sources said, as the preliminary enquiry revealed criminal misconduct by the company and officials of banks, a full-fledged criminal investigation has been initiated and a FIR has been registered.

The CBI has charged the company and unknown officials of 13 banks for allegedly “conspiring to cheat and cause wrongful loss to banks”.

Sources said, the agency also conducted searches at the premises of GTIL in Mumbai, including the residences of the executives of the company.

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