Under attack for acting against NDTV and its promoters on the basis of a private complaint, the CBI on Monday said about six of the 10 cases registered against employees of private banks were based on “private and source information”. The agency is probing over 100 cases related to bank fraud involving funds to the tune of about Rs 35,000 crore. The 10 cases are included in this, an agency spokesperson told PTI.
In the last three years, CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said, 171 cases were registered to look into alleged bank frauds. A preliminary enquiry (PE) was registered in 11 cases, 6.4 per cent of the total. A PE precedes an FIR. “We have registered 10 cases against private bank employees which include six cases registered on the basis of private and source information. As of now, there are over 100 cases of bank fraud under probe which involve funds of about Rs 35,000 crore,” he said in response to a PTI query.
The CBI has been facing criticism for allegedly singling out NDTV in filing a corruption case against it on the basis of a private complaint. The case pertains to a loan which has already been paid by the company in 2009 and there was no complaint from the bank. The CBI registered an FIR on the basis of a complaint by Sanjay Dutt, a shareholder of NDTV and ICICI Bank.
The move of the agency to proceed against NDTV without conducting a preliminary enquiry was criticised by the media fraternity as an attempt to muzzle the press. The agency got its powers to register cases against private banks after the Supreme Court order in the Global Trust Bank case last year which said executives of private banks were covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI has registered cases against officials of several private banks, including Axis Bank, Karnataka Bank, Dhanlaxmi Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank as well as cooperative banks like Awami Cooperative Bank and Jain Cooperative Bank. Over the last six months, some big bank fraud cases have been registered against private individuals like Sandeep Jhunjhunwala in a Rs 3,800 crore case, Sunil Kakkad in a Rs 900 crore case and Jatin Mehta in an over Rs 4,500 crore case.
According to CBI sources, the agency registered its first case against former liquor baron Vijay Mallya on the basis of a complaint from a private person who did not wish to be identified. It was therefore kept as source information. Source information pertains to inputs where private individuals complain but do not want to reveal their identity.
The CBI in its statement after the NDTV FIR had said it is not probing loan default but alleged violations of RBI rules, SEBI guidelines and reduction in the rate of interest by ICICI Bank which caused a loss of Rs 48 crore to the bank. NDTV denied any wrongdoing and termed the act of the agency a “witch-hunt”.