Police suspect fraudulent nexus behind World Bank cheque forgery

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Police suspect fraudulent nexus behind World Bank cheque forgery

Avishek Sengupta | July 28, 2018 16:16 hrs

GUWAHATI: The city police are investigating a nexus of frauds in forging World Bank’s cheques after a gang of seven was arrested in the act last Tuesday (July 24) at Pan Bazar.

While the prime accused Dipjyoti Sarma along with six others - Dr Ambarish Gorait (Namrup), Ashiman Handique (Dibrugarh ), Chandan Deka of Hengerabari, Joon Das (Dibrugarh), Wilson Barik (Tinsukia) and Chirantan Das of Hengerabari – were already arrested and sent to judicial custody, the police suspect that a larger nexus is involved.

“During interrogation, they had revealed that the entire operation is being remotely controlled by a person over phone. We believe that he is the mastermind behind it. They don’t know his name but we have retrieved contact details from them and are trying to locate this person. We believe that it is the work of a bigger nexus,” a source in the crime branch of city police said. 

It was the assistant general manager of State Bank of India, Pan Bazar Branch, Ajanta Hazarika, who first caught the anomaly when the prime accused Dipjyoti Sarma had appeared at the bank on July 22 to deposit two cheques worth Rs 50 lakhs each purportedly issued by executive engineer of World Bank’s PWD division favouring Pabitra Sarma, a resident of Patacharkuchi in Barpeta District, about 108 kms from Guwahati. Accused Sarma, who is also a resident of Patacharkuchi, had said that he is Pabitra’s son.

It may be mentioned here that under the PWD division of the World Bank, a project worth Rs 400 crores named Assam State Road Project is undergoing in the state. The World Bank had sanctioned Rs 320 crores on November 2012 for the project that would enhance connectivity in the state, modernise the road management and instil road safety measures. The project that is being overseen by the World bank, PWD Division headquartered at Uttarakhand, is supposed to end by August next year and a major part of the works are being done at Barpeta.

“It was not an amateur forgery as the fraudsters have done major research before executing it. The prime accused had said that they are claiming money against acquisition of their land for the project. The only thing that gave them away was the signature on the two cheques which had minor differences that could barely be noticed. Also, the forged signature matched with that of the executive engineer’s original signature,” the source said. 

Hazarika, after finding the anomaly in the signature, had called the Uttarakhand Branch of SBI to cross-check and after being told that no cheque had been issued favouring Pabitra Sarma, she filed a complaint at the Pan Bazar police station following which a case (no 442 /2018) has been registered.

“On the first day when the accused had submitted the cheques, Hazarika had sent them back home saying that the cheques’ authenticity is being confirmed and when they get cleared, he will be called back. When she found out that the cheques are forged and after filing the complaint she called Sarma with police team waiting to nab him,” police said.

The other six accused were waiting outside the bank and were held immediately.

Meanwhile, the city police are trying to get in touch with the World Bank and Uttarakhand police as they believe that the spread of nexus might reach there too.

“We have informed World Bank regarding the same. They too confirmed about not issuing any cheque. We have informed them about the forgery and asked to be alert about such fraudulence. We have also informed the Uttarakhand police of the possible operation of a similar nexus that might have insiders in the World Bank. Otherwise, how would the frauds know about the operation of world bank?” the police said.

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