Villagers sleepless as IAS officer`s fraud unravels

Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 10:11

Kharora: On paper, he is the director of a steel factory, with two bungalows in posh localities and Rs.16 crore (Rs.160 million) in a bank account. In reality, Bhola Yadav, a resident of this village, owns two goats and a cycle and is almost starving.

Last week income tax (IT) officials visited Yadav`s shanty and informed him that he was a millionaire. The physically challenged Yadav was left stunned and denied before the IT team that he had ever even opened a bank account.

It then emerged that an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, BL Agrawal, who is currently agriculture secretary in Chhattisgarh, had illegally opened at least 220 bank accounts - all in the name of Kharora village residents, Yadav being one of them - to show his black money as white, say IT officials.

"The total assets I have is just two goats, a bicycle that is not operational and a shanty. I have never opened an account in any bank ever," Yadav, 30, told a news agency in his village, some 40 km from Raipur.

"It seemed the ground beneath my feet had slipped when IT officials came to my residence last week and disclosed that I was the director of a steel factory, had bungalows in Bhopal and Jabalpur and had Rs.16 crore in a bank account!"

Yadav, who walks with the help of a stick as one of his legs is disabled, said: "I have not slept since last week because there is a rumour that the IT department will arrest me; I told the IT team that came to my residence to record my statement that I have been trying hard since 2005 to get a loan to begin some work to avoid starvation death."

Kharora village has a population of about 7,500 people, whose assets on paper now run into crores thanks to Agrawal.

A 1988 batch IAS officer, he has been found to have at least 220 bank accounts and assets worth millions of rupees as per the income tax department that raided his residence here and business establishments of his close relatives last week.

Income tax officials raided the house of Agrawal`s chartered account, Sunil Agrawal, and came across documents suggesting that the IAS officer had amassed assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and also opened at least 220 accounts in the Raipur-based branch of the Union Bank, all in the name of Kharora village residents.

A source in the IT department from Bhopal that conducted the raid in Raipur and then visited Kharora village said chartered accountant Sunil Agrawal had confessed before IT officials that all bank passbooks recovered from BL Agrawal`s house were managed by him on behalf of the IAS officer.

Sources say Sunil Agrawal belonged to Kharora village and he cheated his poor village residents several years ago saying their signature and address papers were required for opening PAN cards that would help them get bank loans.

But the papers, he said, were used for opening bank accounts in their names in which the IAS officer put his huge black money in an effort to turn it white.

Auto driver Lochandas Manikpuri of Kharora village - who earns hardly Rs.2,200 a month but has massive money in a bank account as per the IT department - said "several villagers who were told by IT teams last week that we have bank accounts having huge money have started leaving the village temporarily in the wake of rumours that we will be arrested".

"We have been put in this position only because of Sunil Agrawal who some five years ago asked us to put our signatures on paper for PAN cards, but now everything is clear. He used the signed papers to open bank accounts in which black money was put in," Manikpuri said.

But BL Agrawal told a news agency over phone: "It`s all conspiracy against me by the income tax department, I will strongly fight against it."

He, however, refused to comment on the documents and 220 bank passbooks recovered from his residence during last week`s raid. Agrawal was late Wednesday suspended by the state government.


First Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 10:11

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