Woman used forged drafts in Rs 8 cr fraud, 5 convicted

The court of Special CBI Judge Manoj Jain have convicted two former employees of Oriental Bank of Commerce, Meerut branch, and three others of cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption for fraudulently withdrawing nearly Rs 8 crore from the bank during May and November 1999 by using stolen and forged bank drafts.

It emerged during investigation that bank employees Praful Kumar and Ram Kumar (65) connived with Rekha Dubey, the mastermind in the case, to steal money from the bank using forged bank drafts.

The prosecution said Dubey paid Rs 1 lakh to Praful Kumar for two blank draft books. An associate, Suresh Pawar, got Rs 10,000 as commission for his service, while the rest of the amount was split between Ram Kumar and Praful Kumar.

Ram Kumar helped Praful and Dubey get four more draft books and "falsified the bank records" so that the absence of the books go unnoticed, the prosecution said.

Dubey, with the help of her daughter and co-accused Uma Bhatla, took the help of another accused, Manjit Anand, who runs a gold shop. The blank drafts were duly filled up and submitted to various banks to show purchase of gold from the shop.

The drafts with forged stamps were shown to be issued from Oriental Bank of Commerce branch in Chaura Bazar, Ludhiana.

A total of 140 bank drafts were encashed, causing a loss of close to Rs 8 crore to the bank.

Dubey and Praful Kumar have been absconding. Ram Kumar has been sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of Rs 20,000 for providing six blank draft books to Dubey.

The court has sentenced Bhatla and Anand to imprisonment for three years and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 for their roles in the crime.

The court also questioned the "lack of vigilance by the bank management" because the officials failed to detect the fraud when they were clearing the drafts. "Had these branches been vigilant and watchful, the bank would not have been a sufferer," the judge said.

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