Irregularities in appointments, loans at heart of J&K Bank raids

Allegations of large-scale irregularities in matters related to loans, finances and appointments are at the heart of raids by the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB) at the corporate headquarters of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank that continued in Srinagar for a second day on Sunday, according to Union home ministry and ACB officials.

The home ministry and the state government also decided to split the post of chairman-cummanaging director of the bank –held by Parvez Ahmad Nengroo who was removed on Saturday – in accordance with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines.

RK Chibber, who was the bank’s executive president, took over as interim CMD on Sunday. A search committee has been named to recommend names for the positions of chairman and managing director. “Having full faith and confidence in the outstanding workforce of the bank, we shall strive to not only weather the challenges at hand but put the bank on a different pedestal with committed support of our promoters, the J&K government, regulators, vibrant management and dedicated workforce,” Chibber was quoted by the bank in a statement.

The bank, established in 1938 and with a 59.3% stake held by the state government, is considered as a symbol of Kashmiri enterprise and leaders in the Valley, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah, warned against mixing politics with an anti-corruption probe. Nengroo said he is open to any investigations .

Bank officials said ACB investigators spent around four hours in the human resource section of the bank. “They came in the morning and were there till 3pm. They checked files in HR and their focus was especially on recruitments,” said a senior official of the bank. Senior home ministry officials said the ACB is probing a set of appointments at the bank by Nengroo and alleged loans worth hundreds of crores of rupees in violation of laid guidelines to select individuals. Investigations are on to find out how overdrafts of hefty amounts were allegedly released to habitual defaulters of other banks.

The bureau, formed only a few months ago, has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of a complaint on illegal and fraudulent appointments made in the bank. The allegations reflected in the complaint disclose commission of criminal misconduct by J&K Bank officers.

“This constitutes offence under section 5(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat2006 and punishable under section 5(2) of the Act, case FIR No 10/2019 was registered in P/S Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Central Kashmir in Srinagar and investigation of the case was taken up,” the spokesman added.

One of the home ministry officials cited above said establishing the rule of law and taking action against “high and mighty corrupt persons” in Jammu and Kashmir was a high priority. “Action against the chairman of J&K Bank is one more step in this direction to bring the high and mighty corrupt people before the law,” the person added.

Under ACB scanner are Rs 8 crores spent by the bank under corporate social responsibility allegedly on the beautification of Royal Spring Golf Course near Dal Lake in Srinagar and advertisements allegedly worth several lakhs to a local weekly newsmagazine to highlight the budget that no one ever saw.

“We are investigating how Nengroo, whose registered date of birth with State Board of Secondary Education and Government High School Kapran in Kulgam

is April 21, 1963, passed matriculation exam at 14 years of age in November, 1977 under roll number 3438. Further, we are looking into how bank interior designing of branches were allotted to select individuals between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore a branch while the actual cost was only 30% of the money paid,” said a state ACB official requesting anonymity. ACB is also looking into the alleged appointments of a number of Nengroo’s relatives.

Nengroo said he followed all rules during his tenure. “The ACB which has competent officials are already investigating and they wont go by the rumours. We have a set rules in the bank and as chairman I didn’t do anything wrong. Let them investigate and these are all rumors and baseless allegations spread against me,” he said.

Politicians in the Valley called for a probe shorn of politics. “Any steps taken to improve the functioning of J&K bank will be welcomed but the administration of the day must guard against playing politics with the bank. It’s called J AND K Bank for a reason. It’s not meant to be a trophy for regionalist politics,” Abdullah tweeted. Anantnag MP Hasnain Masoodi said there were irregularities at the bank for the past two years. “We want a result-oriented investigation to reveal the irregularities in appointments. 1000 jobs were advertised while 4000 people were appointed. Responsibilities should be fixed. And those responsible should be revealed and action taken,” he said. The MP also alleged that the bank has non-performing assets to the tune of Rs 6,500 crores..

Some unauthentic facts & figures (please verity before further processing)

• Meteoric rise of Parvez Ahmed from a CS to Chairman in a span of 15 years, a man with dubious credentials and shady reputation.

• In the Board of Directors out of 09 Members, two are from valley, Chairman himself and a businessman, Ashraf Mir.

• He got his nephew, Muzaffar, posted into his office immediately after taking over as Chairman. His daughter-in-law, Shazia Ambreen, was appointed as a PO and is currently heading Hazratbal branch.

• Two branches of J&K Bank, Kaprin Shopian and Wuyan Pulwama operate in his personal premises and in-laws of the Chairman. Both the locations are non feasible from banking point of view.

• Two of his relatives, Asif Beg and M. Fahim, both nephew, control HR and Board affairs including the credit proposals.

• Recently the J&K Bank signed an insurance deal with IFFKO TOKIO, where Chairman’s sister’s son is working.

● Interiors of hundreds of the branches are allotted to select individuals for Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore a branch while as actual cost is only 30% of the money paid.

● Shamsuddin Andrabi, 12th pass brother of ex Minister Farooq Andrabi and ex CM’s relative is appointed directly as Manager through back door and posted in JK Bank branch Bhaderwah.

● Loans worth crores and hundreds of crores were allotted without formalities in brazen violation of SOPs/guidelines to select recommendees of Imran Ansari and Sajad Lone.

● ODs of hefty amounts were released to habitual defaulters of other banks. Many of such CC accounts turned NPA.

● One Time Settlements done with select defaulters against huge kickbacks.

● Rs 8 crore spent as CSR on beautification of Royal Spring Golf Course which is a rendezvous of elite and has no utility for common people.

● Huge variations in Cost:Income ration as expenditure during Nengroo’s time has spiralled up to 200 to 500%.

● Paid ads worth Rs 10 lakh or Rs 30 lakh were released to ‘Kashmir Life’ to highlight the Budget which nobody saw.