No Effort to Delay ABG Shipyard Fraud Investigation, Says SBI

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Bombay : There has been no attempt to delay an investigation into the case of alleged fraud at ABG Shipyard Ltd and, since the first complaint was lodged with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 2019, there have been continued engagement between the agency and lenders, the State Bank of India (SBI) said on Sunday.

His statement came after Congress asked at a party press conference on Sunday why it had taken so long to file an FIR since the company was already in liquidation.

The PTI news agency reported on Saturday that the CBI had booked ABG Shipyard Ltd and its then chairman and chief executive, Rishi Kamlesh Agarwal, along with others, for allegedly deceiving a consortium of banks over 22,842 crore.

“The circumstances of the fraud, together with the CBI requirements, were discussed at the various joint lender meetings, and a second new and comprehensive complaint was filed in December 2020. The account is currently being liquidated under of a National Company Law Court-Led Process (NCLT), the statement said.

ABG Shipyard was ordered into liquidation in 2019 under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

The lender said the fraud is reported based on the findings of the forensic audit report which are discussed in detail at the joint lender meetings. Typically, when fraud is reported, an initial complaint is preferred to the CBI and additional information is gathered based on their requests.

“In a few cases, where substantial additional information is gathered, a second compliance incorporating full and complete details is filed, which forms the basis of the FIR,” he said.

SBI said that although ICICI Bank Ltd was the largest lender to the consortium, followed by IDBI Bank Ltd, it was preferable for SBI to file the complaint with the CBI, being the largest lender.

Presenting details of the account, India’s largest lender said ABG Shipyard, incorporated on March 15, 1985, had banking arrangements since 2001. It was funded under a consortium agreement by more than two dozen lenders with private lender ICICI Bank as lead manager. Due to poor performance, the account became non-performing on November 30, 2013, and several efforts were made to revive the business, he said.

The account was then restructured under the Corporate Debt Restructuring Facility in March 2014 by all lenders, which also did not take off.

“As the restructuring failed, the account was classified as a non-performing asset in July 2016 with effect backdated to November 30, 2013. E&Y was appointed as statutory auditor by the lenders in April 2018 and submitted its report on January 19,” a- he declared.

SBI said the E&Y report was submitted to the fraud identification committee of 18 lenders in 2019.

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