The Narmada District police on Thursday detained two staff members of Writer Business Services Private Limited, a cash management company, for the alleged theft of Rs 5.25 crore pertaining to the daily cash collection from the Statue of Unity and its allied projects. The police is probing a complaint, filed by the manager of a Vadodara branch of HDFC Bank at Kevadia police station, for the alleged siphoning off of the money during the period between October 2018 and March 2020.
Himkar Singh, Superintendent of Police (SP), Narmada District, confirmed to The Indian Express that two staff members of the collection company had been detained for questioning.
“We are questioning them for their role in the theft. They are collection agents, who visited the Statue of Unity multiple times during the period when the said crime took place… If there is evidence of their involvement in the theft, they will be arrested. The MoU between the bank and Writers Business anyway lays the onus on the latter, which has certain security amount deposited with HDFC. So Writer Business will foot the bill of this theft,” the SP said.
The complaint filed late on November 30 said that the bank has engaged Writer Business for offering doorstep cash collection facility to the Statue of Unity, which had offline ticket counters before the Covid-19 lockdown for entry to various projects of the tourist spot as well as regular parking charges.
The HDFC Bank has been providing services for the cash collected daily by the SoU administration at various counters for offline ticketing and parking fees, and depositing it in the Statue of Unity bank account in its Vadodara branch. The receipt of the cash received is issued to the SoU administration and it is periodically reconciled with the cash deposit entries made in the account.
During the reconciliation carried out with the HDFC after the easing of Covid-19 curbs, SoU auditors noticed that the receipts submitted by executives of Writer Business on behalf of the bank did not match with the actual entries into the account with an amount of Rs 5.25 crore missing.
An officer of the district police said, “We have to tally a lot of records to ascertain the exact days when the theft has taken place as the period ranges from October 2018 to March 2020.” The receipts in the SoU records indicated that the agent of the HDFC Bank had been handed over the amount.
Singh added, “There is also negligence on part of the bank and the local administration. Such kind of checks on daily cash collections should be done regularly, if not every day…”
According to Narmada District Collector DA Shah, who is also the CEO of SoU, HDFC Bank is solely responsible for this transaction process. A committee that met and scrutinised the records concluded that the theft occurred between the two financial companies and, as per the agreement, HDFC Bank has credited the amount to the SoU account along with the interest, while they will resolve their dispute with their agent.
The FIR, so far, mentions “Staff of Writers Business Services Private Ltd”, as the accused and has been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) 407 (criminal breach of trust by carrier), 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest offender is bound to protect), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy).
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