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India's Top Probe Agency Launches ‘Biggest Operation’ to Go After Bank Fraudsters

© REUTERS / Danish SiddiquiA customer deposits 1000 and 500 Indian rupee banknotes in a cash deposit machine at bank in Mumbai, India, November 8, 2016
A customer deposits 1000 and 500 Indian rupee banknotes in a cash deposit machine at bank in Mumbai, India, November 8, 2016 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): India's Finance Ministry has claimed the country’s main internal probe agency has been examining 847 cases related to bank fraud, registered with it since May 2014. Last week, the government claimed that banks had reported $6 billion in fraud over the last three years.

In what the probe agency has termed its "biggest operation", India’s top investigative agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has launched countrywide raids against various individuals in bank fraud cases.

Official sources of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) agency said 14 cases have been registered against the accused including various firms.

"In a countrywide action relating to bank fraud scams/cases, CBI is conducting a special drive today (Tuesday) and has begun searches at more than 50 places in 18 different cities in around 12 states/union territories", a senior official said.

The crackdown kicks off a year after the agency was hit by a slew of bank scams, with the over $2.1 billion Punjab National Bank scam becoming the focus of both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

India's Finance Ministry claimed that the CBI has been probing the 847 cases of bank fraud that have been registered since May 2014. Of the 847 cases, 371 cases are currently under investigation, 450 cases are being tried, 14 cases have been closed, four cases have resulted in conviction, and a court has ordered a stay in two cases. In addition, regular departmental action has been advised in six cases.

On Tuesday, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that since April 2016, banks and select financial institutions have reported over $6 billion in fraud to the Reserve Bank of India. As per the document tabled in the Parliament, the minister claimed that $3.7 billion worth of financial scams were reported in 2016-17 while $1.4 billion worth of fraud was reported in 2017-18. In the last fiscal year, the amount related to bank fraud was around $1 billion.

To bring transparency and accountability to the larger financial system, bank accounts with 3.38 lakh from inoperative companies have also been frozen since April 2017.

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