CBI books Chandigarh pharma firm owners in bank ‘fraud’ case

The CBI has booked Pranav Gupta and Vineet Gupta, owners of a Chandigarh-based pharmaceutical company, among others for alleged bank fraud to the tune of Rs 1,626.74 crore.

The case has been registered on a complaint from the Central Bank of India that Parabolic Drugs Ltd (PDL) and its promoters and directors had cheated a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI).

The CBI has alleged the Guptas used forged documents to get loans sanctioned and diverted the funds to other bank accounts, from where they were created assets and personal enrichment.

The CBI said in a statement, “It was alleged that the accused had cheated the consortium of banks to the tune of Rs 1,626.74 crore (approx) by criminal conspiracy, forgery, using forged documents knowing the same to be forged & availed loan funds.”

The accused then diverted funds, CBI stated. The Guptas are among founders and trustees of Ashoka University.

In a statement on Thursday, the university said: “The CBI investigation of Parabolic Drugs and its Directors has nothing to do with Ashoka University. Any attempt to create a link is frivolous and misleading. The University has over 200 founders and donors who have made personal philanthropic contributions to Ashoka. Their individual business dealings and operations have no connection to the University.

“In keeping with the high standards for governance at Ashoka, Vineet and Pranav Gupta have already voluntarily stepped down from all Boards and Committees of the University pending the CBI case and are cooperating fully with the investigations.”

The FIR was registered on December 29, 2021. The CBI subsequently conducted searches at 12 locations — including Chandigarh, Panchkula, Ludhiana, Faridabad and Delhi — at the office and residential premises of the accused. CBI said searches resulted in “recovery of incriminating documents, articles, cash” worth Rs 1.59 crore.

The FIR alleged the duo “forged documents and submitted false supporting documents to induce banks to sanction credit facilities in favour of PDL and/or make payments to entities on behalf of PDL against fictitious transactions.”

According to the FIR, they “deployed devious tactics to mis-utilise funds and siphon/divert the said funds to avoid repayment and/or personally enrich themselves and thereby causing losses to the banks. Once funds were diverted to alternate non-Consortium Bank accounts, the said amounts were siphoned away by the Accused Persons into purchasing assets and/or to personally enrich themselves.”

The FIR has alleged their father, Jai Dev Gupta, was appointed non-official director of UCO Bank by the Union Finance Ministry in July 2008. But contrary to rules, Jai Dev allegedly did not declare he held shares worth more than Rs 5 lakh in PDL, which was getting credit facilities from UCO Bank since 2002, the FIR stated.

“Jai Dev Gupta did not do so with the intent of influencing financial decisions of UCO Bank in favour of PDL…in 2009, the credit limit of PDL was enhanced from INR 56 Crore to approximately INR 95 Crore. As a reward and incentive for ensuring enhancement of credit facilities, immediately thereafter, the value of share of Jai Dev Gupta in PDL was increased from INR 5,36,000 to INR 30,63,000,” the FIR alleged.

Besides the company; its MD, Pranav Gupta, and director, Vineet Gupta, other accused include PDL directors Deepali Gupta, Rama Gupta, Jagjit Singh Chahal, Sanjeev Kumar, Vandana Singla, Ishrat Gill and J D Gupta; and guarantors T N Goyal and Nirmal Bansal, apart from unknown public servants and private persons.

Vineet Gupta did not respond to calls made by The Indian Express. Messages sent to him did not elicit any response.

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