The Enforcement Directorate has attached properties worth Rs 255 crore in a case connected to fraudulent availing of agricultural loans in the name of poor farmers. The agency provisionally attached assets worth Rs 255 crore of Gangakhed Sugar Energy Ltd (GSEL), Yogeswari Hatcheries, and Gangakhed Solar Power Ltd under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in an agricultural bank loan fraud case.
The attached assets include a sugar plant and machinery worth Rs 247 crore at Gangakhed in Maharastra's Parbhani district, and land worth Rs 5 crore of GSEL, Yogeswari Hatcheries, Gangakhed Power Solar Ltd situated at Parbhani, Beed, and Dhule districts, respectively.
The agency has also attached a bank balance of Rs 1.58 crore, and Rs 1.91 crores in shares held in the name of GSEL.
In May 2019, the agency had initiated investigation, under the provisions of PMLA on the basis of an FIR registered by police in Gangakhed against Gangakhed Sugar and Energy Ltd, its Chairman Ratnakar Gutte and others under various sections of the IPC for fraudulently availing agricultural loan in the name of poor farmers, on the basis of forged loan proposals submitted to the banks.
"CID Aurangabad has filed the charge sheet for embezzlement/misappropriation of the funds... Investigation revealed that the chairman of GSEL with the connivance of others misused the agricultural loan facility meant for poor farmers," said a senior officer.
According to the ED official, the scheme of agricultural loan was formulated for financing the farmers coming under the command area of the sugar factory.
"Its aim was to meet the financial needs of the farmers and was given to the farmers based on their land holding for raising their crop which includes among other things to purchase seeds, fertilisers, manure, machinery, tractors, pumps, harvesting and transportation of the crop," said the officer.
Investigation also revealed that accused person created a data bank of the farmers, who supplied the sugarcane to the factory, by collecting their KYC details at the time of purchase of the crop.
The factory further tied-up with banks for obtaining agricultural loans for the farmers. Due to this agreement, GSEL become the agent for the banks, whose responsibility was to do KYC verification of the farmers.
Investigation revealed that during the period from 2012-13 to 2016-17, GSEL made forged agricultural loan proposals in the name of the farmers on the basis of farmers' KYC and submitted them to the banks. "Based on these forged loan proposals, banks sanctioned agricultural loans of around Rs 772 crore.
"Investigation into money trail further revealed that using this modus operandi, around Rs 635 crore were disbursed by the banks in to the bank accounts opened in the name of the farmers," added the officer.
Investigation further revealed this ill-gotten money was utilised by the alleged accused for purchase of the land, for erection and fabrication of the GSEL plant, purchase of shares, operative expenditure of the plant, repayment of loans, administrative expenses etc defeating the very purpose of the agricultural loans, thereby the agricultural loans of around Rs 255 crore become an NPA.