The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday booked the regional provident fund commissioner and the enforcement officer of the employees’ provident fund for allegedly being involved in fraudulent activities.
According to the CBI, the duo, ES Sanjeeva Rao, the then regional provident fund commissioner-II, employees’ provident fund sub-regional office, Vashi, who is now posted at Thane, and DM Ambokar, the enforcement officer, both entered into criminal conspiracy with private persons to cheat the employees’ provident fund office EPFO to the tune of several crore.
Investigations revealed that the directors and consultants of one Pratibha Industries ltd, located at Chembur, along with a couple of officials from the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation and CIDCO, and the officials of the EPFO cheated the EPFO by passing a favourable order.
“They abused their official positions and verified the accounts of the company without verifying the documents. They passed favourable orders despite not receiving any documents,” said Pravin Salunkhe, deputy inspector general, ACB, CBI.
“The company duped the EPFO to the tune of several crores,” he added. Preliminary investigations also revealed that this fraudulent process, which has been going on for the last couple of years, has resulted in a loss of Rs24.91 crore to the EPFO. The magnitude is likely to increase, added officials.
According to the CBI, Rao passed favourable orders without examining the dues of the employees engaged in the projects of the Navi Mumbai municipal corporation and CIDCO. On the other hand, Ambokar, without verifying the proper facts, accepted the report submitted by Pratibha Industries ltd.
Large scale omission was also deliberately done on the EPF deduction, which was not done according to the rules and regulations of the Act. “We have conducted searches on the duo’s residences and office premises. We have seized several incriminating documents that indicate the fraudulent activities. We are scrutinising them to get more clues about the case,” said Salunkhe.
The CBI is also probing if the duo engaged in similar activities with other companies and amassed ill-gotten wealth. “We are also collecting information about the duo’s investments and properties. We are taking stock of the wealth and assets they have accumulated over the years,” said another CBI official, on condition of anonymity.
So far, it has come to the fore that they have huge amount of investments in the form of shares, fixed deposits and investments in real estate across the country. Further investigations are on, added CBI officials.