Loan fraud case: Hilal Rather rebuts charges

Hilal Rather, son of former J&K Minister, Abdur Rahim Rather, booked in a bank loan fraud case by the CBI, has rebutted the charges made by Anti Corruption Bureau, including funds being transferred to subversive elements.

In astatement, Hilal’s counsel, Mudasir Raina, in reference to a news report regardingthe CBI taking over the case, said even after investigating the matter for ninemonths, the agency has not been able to identify the bank officials who as perthem conspired with M/s Paradise Avenue to defraud the Bank.

“The case has been handedover to CBI against unidentified officials of J&K Bank and Hilal Rather forbeing a partner of the firm,” said the statement.

The statement questioned where there “any ghost identities” operating in the Bank, during and after National Conference government, who cannot be brought to light.

“Though there are four more partners in M/s Paradise Avenue who collectively hold around 70 % stake in the firm, why is it that only Hilal Rather has been arrested and subjugated to custodial interrogation despite his poor medical condition,” said the statement. ” It is clearly evident the agency has completely failed in establishing any conspiracy between M/s Paradise Avenue and the Bank officials because it never existed.”

It said the agency was trying to give a “different colour” to the case by resorting to false accusations. “The agency claims there are international ramifications and a possibility of stashing of funds and diversion of funds to subversive elements.

A premier investigative agency resorting to baseless insinuations after investigating a matter for nine months is nothing but an attempt to wash their hands off the case by handing it over to another agency so that case can be kept alive in media trial rooms,” said the statement.

It said the ACB in itsreport has not even spared genuine sponsorships and business promotion expensesand made it a part of “so called diversion” of funds.

Thestatement said the pertinent question was, if indeed Rs 26 crore was divertedfrom the project, then how is it that more money than the Rs 128 crore,provided by the Bank for construction, has been spent on it. “Of totaloutstanding loan of Rs 177 crore, the principal component of the loan forconstruction of the project was only Rs 128 crore, rest being interestcomponent during the construction period,” said the statement.

Regarding “falseaccusation” of existence of properties in UAE and USA, the statement said itwas incumbent on the agencies to liquidate them and make public money goodwithout wasting a single moment. “But it would not happen as no such propertyexists,” said the statement.

The statement said it wasalleged that four loans were sanctioned to the firm without any collateral orreceiving the payment for the earlier loans. “It needs to be explained that howis it that the Bank provided the financial support twice even when an adversepolitical regime was in power and no so called influence could have been usedby any of the partners of M/s Paradise Avenue. On one hand the agency claimsloans were sanctioned in violation of norms and procedures and on the otherhand it has not been able to identify the conspirators in the Bank,” said thestatement.

It said the agency hastried to “flog a dead horse” by highlighting so-called waiver of Rs 50 crorethrough a One Time Settlement (OTS) which was never availed as the Bank hadsuo-moto cancelled the said offer vide letter dated 20 October 2018. “An OTSwhich was never implemented and cancelled by the Bank on its own, how it can beany benefit at all,” the statement said.

It said the efforts of theACB to unearth the truth in the matter were appreciated and it was hoped thatthe CBI shall live up to its reputation and carry forward the investigations inthe matter in a fair and professional manner in larger public interest.

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