Diarytimes Media Network, Shimla Published by : Kumud Sharma, Updated April 20, 2023 by Diary Times
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against ABG Shipyard Limited and its directors, including Chairman and Managing Director Rishi Kamlesh Agarwal, in what could be the biggest bank fraud case in India’s history.
ABG Shipyard, one of the most prominent private sector shipping firms, was on Saturday booked for allegedly defrauding 28 banks to the tune of Rs 22,842 crore. Besides Agarwal, Santhanam Muthuswamy, Ashwini Kumar, Sushil Kumar Agarwal and Ravi Vimal Nevetia have also been named in the case.
The CBI had issued a statement on Saturday saying that searches were conducted at 13 places at the premises of the accused, including private company directors, in Surat, Bharuch, Mumbai, Pune etc, in which incriminating documents were recovered.
Some information about ABG Group
ABG Shipyard, the flagship company of the ABG Group, is one of India’s largest firms engaged in shipbuilding and ship repair. ABG Shipyards are located at Dahej and Surat in Gujarat.
The company has built more than 165 vessels over the past 16 years, 46 for foreign customers, including specialty vessels such as newsprint carriers. It has the capacity to build ships up to 18,000 dead weight tonnage (DWT) at its Surat shipyard and up to 1,20,000 DWT at its Dahej facility.
The group is promoted by Rishi Agarwal, a major player in the Indian shipbuilding industry.
What is the ABG Shipyard case?
The matter came to light after a complaint by the State Bank of India. The SBI consortium of 28 banks and financial institutions has been allegedly defrauded of a total of Rs 22,842 crore. Of this, ABG Shipyard owes Rs 7,089 crore to ICICI Bank, Rs 3,639 crore to IDBI Bank, Rs 2,925 crore to State Bank, Rs 1,614 crore to Bank of Baroda and Rs 1,244 crore to Punjab National Bank.
This is the biggest bank fraud case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation, bigger than the Punjab National Bank scam, in which fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi were involved.
SBI had first filed the complaint on November 8, 2019, to which the CBI had sought some clarifications on March 12, 2020. A fresh complaint was again filed in August that year. After “investigating” for over a year and a half, the CBI acted on the complaint, registering an FIR on 7 February.
Meanwhile, forensic audit by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) revealed that between 2012 and 2017, the accused conspired together and carried out illegal activities including diversion of funds, misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.