ACB issues lookout notice for ex-chairman Cooperative Bank

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Tuesday issued a lookout notice for a former chairman of J&K State Cooperative Bank Limited in connection with his alleged involvement in Rs 223-crore land scam pertaining.

“The ACB issues lookout notice for Mohammad Shafi Dar, ex-chairman J&K State Cooperative Bank Limited. Any person giving information about his whereabouts will be suitably rewarded,” an ACB spokesman said.

“If any person is having any knowledge and information about the whereabouts of the accused, he or she may inform or communicate through email, WhatsApp or toll-free numbers to ACB,” he said.

The organisation said that any person giving the information shall be suitably rewarded and his or her identity will be kept secret.

The official spokesperson said the ACB has been successful in unearthing the siphoned funds and an amount to tune of Rs 187 crore has been frozen.

A preliminary inquiry was conducted by the ACB, Jammu, on allegations that Dar, in connivance with officials and a beneficiary of a non-existent cooperative house building society, had sanctioned an amount of Rs 223 crore fraudulently under the name of ‘River Jhelum Cooperative House Colony at Shivpora, Srinagar’, run by Hilal Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar. Mir was arrested on May 14 in the alleged scam.

The investigation revealed that Mir had moved an application to the secretary, Cooperatives, Administration Department of Cooperative Societies, in which he sought directions to the J&K Cooperative Bank Limited for grant of financial assistance to the tune of Rs 300 crore for taking over possession of 300 kanals of land located in the outskirts of Srinagar for construction of a satellite township, he said.

The spokesman said the application was endorsed to the registrar of Cooperative Societies, J&K, for taking up the matter with the Jammu and Kashmir State Cooperative Bank.

Accordingly, the cooperative bank in Srinagar sanctioned a loan to the tune of Rs 223 crores without adhering to any codal formalities like obtaining the details of the society such as its balance sheet, profit and loss account business, activities being done by it, income tax returns and details of construction of the board resolutions, the spokesman said.

During inquiry, he said, it also surfaced that the River Jhelum Cooperative House Building Society has not even been registered with the Cooperative Societies, J&K.

“The accused (Mir), by acting in league with the chairman of the J&K Cooperative Bank, Srinagar and others, had prepared a fake and fictitious registration certificate in the name of the society and managed the sanction of loan to the amount of Rs 223 crore,” the spokesman said.

He said the omission and commission on part of the chairman of the J&K State Cooperative Bank and others, in conspiracy with Mir, constitute offences under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code. It also resulted in a loss of Rs 223 crore to the bank.

Accordingly, a case was registered and investigation taken up, the officials said.

Mir was arrested on May 14 to effect the recovery of documents required in the case which were purportedly in his possession and also to unearth the modus operandi, and the end-use of funds and quid pro quo, if any, obtained, the spokesman said. He said the interrogation of the accused is in progress to ascertain further leads in the matter.