Nearly 18 years after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) unearthed a Rs 173 crore fraud,a special CBI court on Thursday convicted Dhanraj Mills managing director T G Ruia and sentenced him to two years simple imprisonment. Ruia was held guilty of diverting public funds into his account with the help of then LIC Mutual Funds General Manager T S Rajagopalan.
As Rajagopalan died a few years after the case was registered,he was discharged from the case. The CBI judge S G Deshpande has suspended Ruias conviction for ten weeks,allowing him to appeal against the conviction. Ruia has also been fined Rs 5 lakhs. Soon after the case was registered in 1995,Ruia was arrested and stayed in prison for 28 days. He has since been out on bail.
According to the prosecution,Ruia and Rajagopalan entered into criminal conspiracy with eight others including Bhupen Dalal,who worked as a broker with LIC and swindled LIC funds. Rajagopalan issued cheques on his name from LIC accounts and got it diverted into Ruias Allahabad Bank account, said special public prosecutor Rajendra Mhamane.
The nature of the crime was so blatant that Ruia and others operated their account openly and got the money transferred into each others accounts,the CBI had alleged.
All ten were booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act. However,with the death of three accused,including Rajagopalan,the conspiracy charge could not be proved,said Mhamane.
The prosecution examined 34 witnesses,and over 550 financial documents to prove the case. Most witnesses were examined to establish how public money was misused, Mhamane added.
Although the complaint was registered in 1995,charges were framed only in 2003. The accused had challenged the case before the Bombay High Court,derailing the case for nearly a decade.
Ruia is also facing trial in a similar fraud involving Bombay Mercantile Bank officials.