The country's top medical institute AIIMS fell prey to a banking fraud as over Rs 12 crore has been stolen from its two bank accounts with the State Bank of India by allegedly using "cloned cheques" over the past one month, official sources said.
The money has been siphoned off from the bank accounts AIIMS has with State Bank of India (SBI) from its non-home branches in other cities, the sources told PTI.
Even after the fraud came to light, attempts were made to illegally withdraw over Rs 29 crore allegedly using cloned cheques from SBI's non-home branches located in Dehradun and Mumbai in the last one week. However, the attempts were foiled.
The hospital administration has already approached the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police seeking an investigation into the scam.
According to an official, cheques presented at SBI's branches passed UV ray tests, and in most of the cases, the original cheque leaves with the same series were still with the institute, AIIMS said in a report to the Health Ministry.
It said SBI failed to follow verification protocol while clearing cheques at non-home branches and asked the bank to deposit the stolen amount.
The sources said the fraudsters attempted to withdraw over Rs 20 crore from a non-home branch of SBI in Dehradun while Rs 9 crore was attempted to be stolen from a branch of the bank in Mumbai.
"Prima facie there is no evidence suggesting direct role or complicity of AIIMS officials as the signatures of authorised signatories also seem to be forged. The payments released or stopped can straight away be attributed to failure of control mechanism in SBI bank and its branches. Hence, the loss doesn't pertain to AIIMS," AIIMS said in a report.
The sources said over Rs 7 crore was fraudulently withdrawn from the institute's main account with SBI, which is operated by the AIIMS Director. Another amount of Rs 5 crore was taken out from another account held by the Dean, Research of AIIMS.
After the fraud came to light, SBI has alerted all its branches and has advised its employees against paying high value cheques issued by AIIMS, New Delhi. "Huge number of cloned cheques paid across the country - AGM, Fraud Monitoring Cell," read a message circulating in the internal WhatsApp group of SBI staff.