The former chairman of the Vajreshwari temple board is wanted for allegedly misappropriating Rs 3 crore of the organisation’s funds over a period of one year.
The accused, Manoj Pradhan, a member of the NCP in Thane, headed the Shri Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Sanatha between 2014 and 2017. Executives on the board, which governs the temple located in Vajreshwari town on the banks of the Tansa river, are appointed by the Thane Sessions Court.
The alleged fraud was noticed by current chairman, Kalpesh Patil, who took over in July this year. According to his complaint, in 2017, Pradhan had proposed opening a fixed deposit account for the board at a Bhandup branch of the Corporation Bank.
The police said Pradhan had deposited copies of a form required to open an account, and which required the signatures of the chairman and three board members, including the auditor. Pradhan also deposited FD certificates, apart from copies of cheques and RTGS transfer statements, with the board. Between January 2017 and February 2018, Pradhan is alleged to have transferred Rs 3.22 crore from the board’s bank account to his own account at Corporation Bank in Bhandup and created forged FD certificates.
While looking through the board’s accounts on November 13, Patil noticed an irregularity in one of the FD certificates. He then looked through the account opening form and noticed that his signature on it was forged.
The board then contacted Corporation Bank and showed them the FD certificates. The branch manager informed them that those were fake, the police said.
Further investigation into the board’s accounts showed that Patil’s signatures on cheques, using which money was credited from the board’s bank account in Vajreshwari, were also forged.
The police said Pradhan transferred the money into his own bank account without the knowledge of the board.
“We have frozen his bank account,” said Inspector Vilas Sanap, Economic Offences Wing, Thane Rural Police.
Last week, Patil got a case of cheating and forgery filed against Pradhan at Ganeshpuri police station. “The accused is at large and we are looking for him,” said Sanap.
NCP Thane president, Jitendra Awhad, said the party had no comment to make on what he termed Pradhan’s “personal affair”.