New Delhi: Last week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered an FIR in a seven-month old coin fraud case concerning the State Bank of India. The FIR, filed on 13 April, includes charges under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
The case relates to the discovery, in August 2021, that coins worth Rs 11 crore were missing from the State Bank of India’s (SBI) Mehandipur Branch in Rajasthan.
However, authorities are yet to find any clues in the case. A police FIR filed by the bank in August last year reported a discrepancy in the total value of coins deposited in the bank, and those that were found to be there during an audit conducted that month. Last month, after the SBI moved court, requesting a CBI probe, the Rajasthan High Court directed the agency to take up the case.
“We have registered a case on the directions of the court. The CCTV footage is being scanned and the investigation is on. Some of the bank officials will also be questioned in this regard,” a CBI officer told ThePrint, requesting anonymity.
According to the CBI FIR, accessed by ThePrint, a departmental probe has also been launched against a cashier, who has been suspended till any further observations are made.
The August audit
According to the CBI FIR, the first complaint was made by SBI branch manager Hargovind Meena in August last year at Rajasthan’s Todabhim police station, after the matter of the missing coins came to light.
“Branch officials had constituted a committee for an audit of coins worth close to Rs 13 crore held by the bank, on 10 August last year. For this purpose, it had partnered with a professional vendor called Arpit Goods Carrier,” mentions the FIR.
However, even before the counting of coins was completed, the vendor suspected a discrepancy between the value of coins that were said to have been deposited at the bank, and the amount held by it at the time, the FIR claims. According to it, the bank should have had coins worth Rs 13,01,71,275 at the time.
“After a primary investigation conducted by the bank committee, the branch manager realised that there was a discrepancy in the number of coins deposited and the ones found,” states the FIR.
According to the FIR, after the employees of Arpit Goods Carrier had finished counting 2,350 bags of coins, holding Rs 1,39,60,000, they estimated that the remaining bags — about 600-700 in number — could hold coins worth approximately Rs 60 lakh, indicating a discrepancy of about Rs 11,62,11,275.
‘Arpit employee threatened’
In a development that seems straight out of a crime thriller, the FIR mentions that the owner of Arpit Goods Carrier, Satish Sharma, told the bank that while the audit was underway, one of his employees — involved in the counting of coins — allegedly had his life threatened by a group of 10-15 armed men, and told to stop the audit.
The incident allegedly took place when the Arpit employee, who was not a resident of Mehandipur, was returning to the the hotel where he was staying.
It was after this incident that the SBI manager approached the police. Meanwhile, the completion of the counting of coins also confirmed that coins worth Rs 11,62,11,275 were missing from the bank.
Taking cognisance of the alleged threats received by the Arpit Goods Carrier employee, the CBI FIR mentions that a detailed examination of the CCTV footage of the area where the alleged incident took place, will be made to confirm its authenticity.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)