In an embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, an official report has indicted the erstwhile Board of Directors of the state's apex cooperative bank, which included Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and several other leaders of the ruling Congress-NCP combine, for irregularities resulting in huge losses.
The report by the Commissioner and Registrar of Cooperatives, Dinesh Aaulkar, has said the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) had to suffer losses of over Rs 1,500 crore due to the decisions and actions of the erstwhile Board of Directors during three financial years since 2007-08.
While NCP's Manikrao Patil was the chairman of the board at that time, Ajit Pawar, nephew of party chief and former Union Minister Sharad Pawar, was one of the directors.
Other directors included former Deputy CM Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, Amarsinh Pandit, Yasvantrao Gadakh (NCP), Diliprao Deshmukh, Manikrao Kokate, Ramprasad Bordikar and Rajani Patil (Congress). Though names of Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena) and Pandurang Phundkar (BJP) also figured in the list, the Board of Directors was dominated by leaders from Congress and NCP.
Secretary, Department of Cooperation, Rajgopal Deora said Aaulkar has issued orders for initiating proceedings under section 88 of the Maharashtra Co-operatives Act 1960 to fix accountability for the financial losses to the bank and from whom to recover the losses.
Aaulkar has appointed Additional Registrar Shivaji Pahinkar to initiate the proceedings to fix accountability and submit a report in three months.
Asked if criminal proceedings too could be initiated against those found responsible, Deora said any decision in this regard could be taken by the management of the bank alone.
The Reserve Bank of India had dissolved the Board of Directors of the bank in 2011 after it was found having high negative worth and put the control of the management under administrators. Under the administrators, the bank is now out of the red.
There were accusations that non-performing assets (NPA) of the bank had soared following extension of loans in violation of norms to various cooperative societies controlled by politicians who did not pay back.
The report, which was submitted last week, comes at a time when the ruling alliance is smarting from the drubbing it received in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections and barely months before it faces state assembly polls.