By: SANTOSHEE GULABKALI MISHRA
The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Thane Police arrested a man who duped investors of Shatabdi Mahila Sahkari Bank Limited of Rs 1.65 crore.
Zahir Abu Bakar is alleged to have connived with two others including the bank’s manager, and was arrested on July 19 after the bank’s chairperson Kalpana Hajare lodged a police complaint in February this year.
The bank, a special initiative to encourage women investors- presently has 3,000 women customers and 4,000 shareholders.
According to Hajare, the bank found irregularities in some specific motor vehicle loans given to subscribers which turned out be bogus, after which they began probe.
“Our manager had come up with a proposal to provide few of the customers with car loans to be routed through a specific motor agent. The loans were disbursed and the process was put in place with 27 women availing the loan benefits. The board approved the proposal as at that stage everything looked proper. The loans were sanctioned between November 2011 and September 2012,” said Hajare.
Later, when the bank appointed a new CEO in 2013, he brought to the board’s notice that malpractices had been employed to clear bogus loans.
“We sent notices to the 27 customers and found that there were no vehicles even though a car loan was dispersed by our bank. Later, when we checked the documents like RC booklet issued by the Regional Traffic Office and other documents including insurance, all turned out to be fake or forged. These were the papers which had the approval of the manager, hence even I was shocked, added Hajare.
“The case was registered with Naupada Police and in May 2013 it was transferred to EOW. We probed the matter and arrested three men, the manager, and two agents who posed as employees of the motor company and sent them to judicial custody. We could not get any details of Zahir and hence we could not accommodate his involvement in the chargesheet earlier,” said an officer from the probe team.
“It was difficult for police to nab Zahir. He was the common link behind the manager and the agents and the man who planned the entire scam. He arranged for bogus and forged documents and connected the loan to fake vehicles. He kept changing mobiles. Apparently he had 6 mobile phones with him. It was difficult for the team to find out his whereabouts. Finally, the team succeeded in arresting him. The offence is very serious because it involves a bank employee. We are now questioning Zahir as our main concern is to recover the money,” said Ravinder Singhal, ACP, Thane.
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