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Congress targets Centre after CBI books Gujarat ship-building firm

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: A day after the CBI said it has booked a Gujarat-based ship-building company and its directors for fraudulent loan default to the tune of Rs 22,842 crore, the Congress on Sunday hit out at the BJP government, alleging that it was running a “loot and escape” flagship scheme for bank fraudsters.

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Claiming that liquidation proceedings of ABG Shipyard had begun in 2017, the Congress asked why it took five years for the CBI to lodge the FIR.

The CBI Saturday said it has booked ABG Shipyard Ltd (ABGSL) and its former chairman and managing director, Rishi Kamlesh Agarwal, along with then executive director Santhanam Muthaswamy, directors Ashwini Kumar, Sushil Kumar Agarwal and Ravi Vimal Nevetia.

Another company, ABG International Pvt Ltd, has also been booked in the case for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and abuse of official position under IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the process of liquidation of ABG Shipyard was initiated in the NCLT, Ahmedabad in August 2017. In June 2019, he said, the loan and bank accounts of ABG Shipyard were declared as “fraud” and five months later, in November, the State Bank of India filed a complaint with the CBI for registration of FIR against ABG Shipyard’s Rishi Agarwal and others.

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“Despite the apparent fraud and swindling of public money, the CBI, SBI and the Modi government proceeded to complicate the entire matter in bureaucratic wrangling and file pushing,” he alleged.

Surjewala claimed that the SBI had filed a second complaint with the CBI in August 2020. “The intriguing part is that in the complaint dated August 25, 2020, the SBI has exonerated all the bankers,” he said.

The Congress asked several questions.

“Why did it take five years after the liquidation proceedings of ABG Shipyard to lodge even an FIR for duping 28 banks of Rs 22,842 crore? Why did the government not lodge an FIR and take criminal action, despite ABG Shipyard accounts having been declared as ‘fraud’ in June 2019…Why did the government and CBI not file an FIR against ABG Shipyard after the first complaint made by SBI to CBI…Why did the CBI not lodge an FIR after the second complaint…Does this not prove complicity, collusion and connivance of those sitting in the highest echelons of power in the Modi government,” Surjewala said.

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