September 15, 2015 1:16:15 am
IN FRESH trouble for Maharashtra’s former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, a quasi-judicial inquiry has found him and 76 others responsible for alleged irregularities and financial losses in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) during three financial years — 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11. The losses reportedly added up to Rs 1,086 crore.
Ajit Pawar was a director on the board of the NCP-controlled bank at that time. On Monday, Additional Cooperatives Commissioner Shivaji Pahinkar, earlier appointed the inquiry officer in the matter, issued a chargesheet to Pawar.
Several other political heavyweights, who were also on the bank’s erstwhile board of directors, were also chargesheeted. These include Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, Dilip Sopal, Amarsinh Pandit, Manikrao Patil, Ishwarlal Jain, Rajendra Jain, Yeshwantrao Gadakh, Hasan Mushrif, Rajwardhan Kadambande (all NCP), Madan Patil, Diliprao Deshmukh, Vijay Wadettiwar, Manikrao Kokate, Ramprasad Bordikar, Rajani Patil (all Congress), MP Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena), Pandurang Phundkar (BJP), Jayant Patil and Meenakshi Patil (Peasants and Workers Party).
While the proceedings will begin on September 28, Pawar and the others have been asked to appear before Pahinkar for cross-examination.
Under the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act, an inquiry officer has quasi-judicial powers that can be challenged only in the Bombay High Court. Pahinkar was appointed in April last year for “fixing accountability”, after a report by the Maharashtra Cooperatives Commissioner blamed “decisions, actions and inactions of the then board of directors for irregularities and financial losses worth Rs 1,596 crore.”
Pahinkar told The Indian Express that the chargesheet was served after a preliminary inquiry found that the board of directors was indeed responsible for losses of Rs 1,086 crore. He said all those chargesheeted face recovery proceedings and could be barred from contesting the MSCB elections for six years.
The 10 charges in the chargesheet include “violation of prescribed norms and guidelines while giving loans to sugar and cotton mills”. The sugar mills and cooperative units in question are controlled by influential Congress, NCP and BJP politicians. The preliminary inquiry found that a firm led by then bank chairman Manikrao Patil’s wife was granted a loan on concessional interest rates, despite being ineligible.
Further, in the case of two sugar cooperatives and two cotton cooperatives, loans were reportedly approved without mortgage, resulting in financial loss of Rs 60 crore.
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