Bhagalpur police on Sunday arrested a retired manager of a Bank of Baroda branch in Bhagalpur in connection with the Srijan scam, taking the total arrests to eight. The police that has lodged eight FIRs mentioning fraud and criminal conspiracy hinted that the amount siphoned from various government bank accounts by the NGO, Srijan Mahila Udyog Samiti Limited, could cross Rs 600 crore, the first scam of such proportions under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s rule.
Bhagalpur SSP Manoj Kumar said: “We have arrested a former manager of Bank of Baroda’s Ghanta Ghar branch in Bhagalpur, A K Singh, for conniving with Srijan in siphoning off money from the district administration’s bank accounts.”
Kumar, who said some other managers of Indian Bank and Bank of Baroda were also under the scanner. He hinted that the ongoing assessment of several government and Srijan bank accounts suggested the siphoned off funds could cross Rs 600 crore. On the investigators’ radar are auditors who seemingly did not notice the malpractice.
Explaining the suspected collusion of auditors, sources in Bhagalpur said: “The state government would hire a Patna-based chartered accountants’ company, who in turn would delegate the Bhagalpur treasury accounting to a Bhagalpur CA. This chartered accountant was reportedly close to Srijan’s founder secretary Manorama Devi. As she always had her man audit government accounts, pilferage was never shown.”
The NGO opened accounts in the same bank branches where there were government accounts and money was transferred to the NGO’s accounts with the alleged connivance of bank and government officials.