New Delhi: A case of embezzlement to the tune of Rs 113 crore has been left hanging in Jammu and Kashmir for the last two years, reported DNA newspaper.
Investigations proved there was prima facie evidence of involvement of former Union minister Dr Farooq Abdullah of National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association's murky dealings. But there was a slow down in the probe since then.
Documents accessed by DNA show Dr Abdullah, along with nine JKCA office-bearers, are offenders under Sections 406, 168 and 120-B of the RPC for making the sports body a lending agency and for operating many bogus accounts.
Investigators told dna that once the name of Dr. Abdullah cropped up as accused number 5 in the FIR No. 27/2012, they were specifically told to go slow. In fact, even the FIR was kept confidential.
With fear of this scam being unearthed, son of Dr. Abdullah and Chief Minister of the state Omar Abdullah made an attempt to botch up investigation and slowed down the process to grant permission for custodial interrogations of the accused.
An official involved in the probe said while two accused even secured anticipatory bail from the Srinagar sessions court, it was deliberately not challenged in a higher court.
This was done to delay investigations, since if a single accused is imprisoned, the police will be legally-bound to file charges within 60 days of his arrest.
"Even now, there is no move to file a charge sheet in a court of law," investigators say.
After Dr Abdullah became president of JKCA on October 14, 2001, the cricket body opened 18 bogus bank accounts that are absent in the records and annual statements.
Out of those, 12 accounts were opened in the Khanyar branch in Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, while 6 accounts were opened in the Cargo branch.
Investigations confirmed that an account in the Centurion Bank of Punjab in Jammu (later merged with HDFC Bank) in the personal name of one Ramesh Mahajan was found with the address of the cricket association office in Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.
Around Rs 20 lakh has been swindled through this account. The office-bearers could not explain as to why that happened. Even JKCA treasurer Ahsan Mirza opened an account in the bank, transacted Rs 4.6 crore upto 2009 and closed it.
Under the leadership of Dr Abdullah, the JKCA disbursed money as loans to 50 individuals, mostly its own members and some firms. This includes Rs. 58.91 lakh to -treasurer Ashutosh Sharma, Rs 13.3 lakh to top bureaucrat Mehbob Iqbal (currently contesting assembly elections from a PDP ticket), and Rs 50 lakh to current treasurer Manzoor Wazir and others.
These defaulters were allowed to retain the amount for years together by the office-bearers even after their leaving the association.
Hotelier Manzoor Gaznafar and Mirza, both former treasurers, and two other office-bearers were given loans worth Rs 4.05 crore, with acknowledgements off the records.
As per the Police, detection of the money trail was not possible as they were not allowed custodial interrogation of Dr Farooq Abdullah and other members of the JKCA.
Gaznafar told police that the money received by him from the association was invested in a business in Rajasthan in partnership with ex-treasurer Ahsam Ahmad Mirza, a close aide of Dr. Abdullah.
There was no attempt made to investigate the nature of business, leading to apprehensions that money might have been used to fund the National Conference's political acitivities.
Curiously, the police also found two parallel balance sheets by the JKCA and authenticated by Chartered Account firm Gullani and Majid.
In the balance sheet of 2009-10, JKCA accounts in two branches of J&K Bank and one in SBI find no mention.
As per JKCA, they spent Rs 5.53 crore on the infrastructure at Science College, Jammu, and SK Cricket Stadium, Srinagar. However, the investigators say, at first look, the expenditure doesn't match the ground reality.
The government did not pay heed to the request of the investigators for an expert from the construction division to authenticate the expenditures.
"It has come to fore that frequent withdrawal of huge amounts of cash from banks has taken place instead of making payments through cheques as a means to watch cash flow/payments," documents authenticated by the probe team say.
Though Rs 1.9 crore was availed by Mirza under the orders of Farooq Abdullah, the accounts/balance sheets do not document this.
Despite leaving the office of treasurer, Mirza continued to control the financial matters and did not transfer important documents to the new treasurer. This was questioned by a JKCA in-house committee.
On being contacted, Dr Abdullah's office said he was unable to speak as he was indisposed and recuperating in a hospital in London. However, they sent a copy of statement Dr. Abdullah had given to the police.
While admitting that the office-bearers might have misled him while preparing the documents, Dr Abdullah continued to defend the amount handed over to Mirza, saying it was loan repayment that Mirza had lend to JKCA to meet its daily expenses in 2007, when its accounts were frozen by the court.