ABG Shipyards ex-Chairman Agarwal's questioning over, may be called again

He is likely to be summoned again, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told IANS. Emerging out of the CBI headquarters, Agarwal, who was accompanied by his legal team, didn't speak to media and immediately left. "Agarwal responded to our summons. He has joined the probe. Our team is questioning him," the CBI official told IANS. Earlier he was grilled on February 17 by the federal probe agency.

The second round of questioning of ABG Shipyards's former Chairman Rishi Kamlesh Agarwal, by the CBI in connection with the Rs 22,842 crore loan fraud case, ended late on Monday.

He is likely to be summoned again, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told IANS.

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Emerging out of the CBI headquarters, Agarwal, who was accompanied by his legal team, didn't speak to media and immediately left.

"Agarwal responded to our summons. He has joined the probe. Our team is questioning him," the CBI official told IANS.

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Earlier he was grilled on February 17 by the federal probe agency.

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Agarwal was reportedly confronted with a few documents.

The CBI, which had recently issued look out circular (LOC) against him and eight others connected to the case, had recently revealed that there were around 100 high value bank fraud cases that could not be registered due to non-accordance of specific consent by state governments where the general consent has been withdrawn.

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The agency has seized incriminating documents, i.e account books of ABG Shipyards, its sale-purchase details, minutes of Board meetings, share registers, and contract files. Bank account details of ABG Shipyards and related parties have been obtained.

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In the case, there are 28 banks involved in the consortium with huge amount of disbursement to the company in the way of CC loans, term loans, letters of credit, bank guarantee etc. that were given as advance by the banks.

The fraud is primarily on account of huge transfer by ABG Shipyard Ltd to its related parties and subsequently making adjustment entries. It is also alleged that huge investment were made in its overseas subsidiary by diverting the bank loans and funds were also diverted to purchase huge assets in the name of its related parties.

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ABG Shipyards took loan of Rs 1,228 crore from the Indian Overseas Bank, Rs 1,244 crore from the Punjab National Bank, Rs 1,614 crore from the Bank of Baroda, Rs 7,089 crore from the ICICI Bank and Rs 3,634 crore from the IDBI Bank and then defaulted. Initially the banks initiated an internal inquiry in which it was found that the company was cheating the consortium by diverting funds to different entities.

A CBI official said that ABG Shipyard Ltd has been in business with the SBI since 2001 and its account turned NPA on November 30, 2013. The account was restructured under CDR mechanism on March 27, 2014. However, the operations of the company could not be revived.

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On September 10, 2014, N.V. Dand and Associates was deputed to conduct stock audit of ABG Shipyard Ltd. The audit firm submitted its report on April 30, 2016 and observed various faults on the part the accused company. Subsequently, the account of ABG Shipyard Ltd was declared NPA.

In keeping with a policy implemented since 2014 of red-flagging suspect accounts, commissioning forensic audits by empanelled forensic auditors, and making CMDs liable, a forensic audit was initiated based on the lenders' decision in the Joint Lenders Meeting dated April 10, 2018.

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Ernst & Young LLP was appointed Forensic Auditor. As per the usual practice, these forensic audits cover a period starting approximately three to four years prior to the date of declaration of NPA, which, in this case was 2016.

The forensic audit of ABG Shipyard Ltd therefore covers the period from 2012 to 2017. Meanwhile, the company ABGSL was also referred to NCLT, Ahmedabad on August 1, 2017 by ICICI Bank, being lead bank, for Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP).

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In between April 2019 to March 2020, various Banks of the consortium declared the account of ABG Shipyard as fraud.

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