The Anti-Corruption Bureau has registered a case against Srinagar's Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran and officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for alleged illegal appropriation of crores of rupees from the state exchequer, a spokesman said on Saturday.
Sheikh Imran, the businessman-turned-politician, is the Deputy Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).
During investigation, it was revealed that Sheikh Imran, who is director of the Kehwa Group of Companies, submitted a proposal to the J&K Bank for establishment of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage under the name of Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd. in Pulwama, the spokesman said.
A joint inspection team of various experts and government officials conducted an inspection of the site and the assessed cost of the project to Rs 33 crore, he said.
The subsidy component was calculated at Rs 16.50 crore -- 50 per cent of the estimated project cost (EPC) -- purportedly as per norms of Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan (HMNEH) states, he said.
The proposal was approved by the empowered monitoring committee of Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH).
After its approval, the state government also constituted a committee which conducted an inspection and then recommended release of subsidy as per norms without altering or amending the component wise value of machinery and civil works, etc., the spokesman said.
During inquiry, it also came to light that the Kehwa Group has six more business units and Sheikh Imran has raised varied loan facilities /overdrafts for these units, he said.
"The liabilities on account of loan accumulated to Rs 138 crore. Since, one of the company Kehwa Square had turned non-performing asset, Imran sought one-time settlement with J&K Bank authorities," the spokesman said.
To usurp the subsidy component under the garb of promoting horticulture activity/storage facility with the connivance of Horticulture officials and bank officials, Sheikh Imran and his partners wanted the CA storage to be declared as a non-performing asset without paying even a single installment to the bank, the spokesman said.
The cost of the project assessed during the inquiry by the ACB was found much lower than the projected cost, he added.
According to the ACB, the plan was executed with the support of officials of the J&K Bank.
The spokesman said Nadeem Ahmad Mayar, the proprietor of Go Fresh, took a loan of Rs 36.10 crore and took over operations of the CA storage business unit without formal transfer of assets/liabilities in his name.
"Ironically, the bank authorities extended the loan facility to the proposed buyer on the same property which was already under hypothecation with the bank as asset of the principal borrower i.e Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd," he said.
The Kehwa Group, with the support of government agencies and bank authorities, illegally benefitted with appropriation of subsidy amount of Rs 16.50 crore and layering of various transactions, he said.
According to the ACB, the Kehwa Group took a loan of Rs 138 crore from the J&K Bank and got it restructured to Rs 78 crore with the help of bank officials.
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