ABG Shipyard, a three-and-a-half-decade old company, run by Chairman and Managing Director Rishi Kamlesh Agarwal, has defrauded many PSUs and private sector banks of thousands of crore rupees. This is believed to be the biggest scam in India to date.
The Congress party, which keeps looking for the opportunity to attack BJP, tried to use the scam as a weapon against the latter. But guess what, it ended up unearthing its own scam.
Congress’s attempt to expose Modi Government’s corruption
Soon after the scam caught the eyeballs, the Congress party found itself on the top of the world. Well, that’s justified. They finally had something to question the Modi Government. Thus, on Sunday, the party questioned the Government asking the latter “Why it took five years after the liquidation proceedings of ABG Shipyard to lodge an FIR in connection with the alleged duping of 28 banks.”
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, while interacting with the media, asked, “Why did the Modi government refuse to take note of the allegations made on February 15, 2018 by the Congress, warning of a scam in ABG Shipyard, and why no FIR was lodged and criminal action taken despite their accounts having been declared as fraud on June 19, 2019?”
In a bid to attack the ruling party, Surjewala stated that “The SBI wrote to the CBI in November 2018 saying there was a fraud committed by ABG Shipyard and seeking the registration of an FIR and criminal action. Despite this, nothing happened, and the CBI pushed the files back to the SBI. Public money keeps getting swindled, but no FIR is lodged.”
On August 25, 2020, the SBI filed a second complaint with the CBI, saying “please register an FIR as this is a case of cheating and fraud. But the CBI still does not act. It waits for another year and a half. Finally, now, after five years, this FIR has been registered”, he added.
“The complicity, the collusion and the connivance of those sitting in the highest echelons of the Modi government with bank fraudsters is writ large,” the Congress leader alleged.
He did not stop here. In a foolish attempt to expose Modi Government, he asserted, “Over the last seven-and-a-half years of the Modi government, incidents of bank fraud involving a total amount of Rs 5.35 lakh crore have been reported. During this period, the write-offs by the banks in India is Rs 8.17 lakh crore.”
BJP bursts the Congress’ bubble
Well, Surjewala needs to be appreciated for a ‘nice’ attempt to expose Modi Government. However, he failed brutally as the party fell into its own pit after BJP retaliated.
The saffron party on Sunday hit back at the Congress over the scam of over Rs 22,842 crore. It stated that “These loans were sanctioned when the UPA was in power whereas the Modi government had gone after the promoters behind such frauds.”
BJP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Syed Zafar Islam replied in the party’s usual style. He stated that the Congress party attacking the government over the case is like a “thief blaming the cops for the crime”.
He further told that these loans were given prior to 2014 (the year when BJP came to power). The BJP government had identified the fraud. “That is why we have taken action,” he added.
The BJP spokesperson told that banks, ever since the BJP government stormed to power, sanction loans on the basis of the strength of companies. On the contrary, in the past, banks used to sanction loans at the “behest of political masters”.
“The Congress is brazening it out. Its government ran the ‘phone banking’ scam with its functionaries forcing banks to sanction loans after accepting commissions from these promoters,” he added.
Chronology of the ABG Shipyard scam
ABG Shipyard, which was incorporated on 15 March 1985, has been under banking arrangements since 2001. “Financed under consortium arrangement over a two dozen lenders. The leader in Consortium was ICICI Bank. Due to poor performance, the account became NPA on 30/11/2013. Several efforts were made to revive the company operations but could not succeed,” a statement from the biggest state-owned bank SBI said.
ABG Shipyard, one of the largest ship manufacturing companies in the country, took loans worth thousands of crore rupees from private and public sector banks with the intention to never pay them back. The company siphoned the money into other accounts, and many bank employees are also said to be involved in the whole fraud.
As per the FIR, the alleged fraud caught the limelight during a forensic audit that Ernst and Young LLP (also known as EY) conducted in January 2019, for a period between April 2012 and July 2017.
The audit report revealed that fraud was conducted through “diversion of funds, misappropriation, and criminal breach of trust, with an objective to gain unlawfully at the cost of the bank’s funds.”
As per the FIR, “ABG SL now owes a total of Rs 22,842 crore. Out of this amount, it owes ICICI (which was leading the consortium) Rs 7,089 crore, SBI Rs 2,925 crore, IDBI Bank Rs 3,639 crore, Bank of Baroda Rs 1,614 crore, Punjab National Bank Rs 1,244 crore, Exim Bank Rs 1,327, Indian Overseas Bank Rs 1,244 crore, and Bank of India Rs 719 crore, among others.”
However, the NPA crisis during the UPA era emerged due to the slowdown of the global economy and phone call loans drained the Indian economy in the last decade. However, the Modi government tried to solve the issue and this scam is proof of the same.