The Union Health Ministry has registered an FIR against unidentified persons for allegedly siphoning funds worth over Rs 2.5 crore, by making payments to unknown persons.
The ministry is learnt to have uncovered the alleged fraud during a financial audit. According to officials, it found that the amount sanctioned had been transferred, but to different account numbers. After the fraud was discovered, all fund transfers from the health ministry were stopped and several computers and rooms sealed in a bid to control any further misappropriation.
Police said a complaint in this regard was received from officials of the health ministry on Thursday afternoon. “A case under IPC sections 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) has been registered at the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), but no arrest has been made so far,” said a senior police officer.
According to the officer, the matter came to light when the department received a complaint from one of their officials, alleging that they have not received the amount that had been sanctioned for a certain scheme. “On receiving the complaint, they conducted a financial audit. The department learnt that the amount had been transferred, but to different account numbers. An internal departmental enquiry into the matter was initiated, and several bank accounts were scrutinised closely. They found that several accounts registered in the names of unknown persons had received the sanctioned amount,” the officer added.
According to a senior official, “We have not been clearing Bills since yesterday; monies transferred to states on various counts have also been stopped for the time being till we know the extent of the fraud. It is not clear who did it and it is too early for us to comment on these things. All we know is that for now, Bills are stuck and we are working to clear things as soon as possible.”
On an average, several hundred crores are transferred from various health ministry accounts to verified state accounts, and those of other agencies, through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS). “Normally, the accounts are added through due diligence and all necessary checks. However, in the present case, it seems a fake account was created and it was fraudulently verified using the usual health ministry safeguards and money was transferred to Assam. That is the one transaction that has so far come to light and an FIR has been lodged by the official whose computer was used to make the transaction,” the official added.