The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted a chargesheet against three accused in connection with a fake bank guarantee in the name of HDFC Bank, Imphal Branch, amounting to Rs 66,20,000 in favour of Woodhill Infrastructure Limited (which had been awarded the contract for temporary restoration of the 40 kilometres long Tamenglong-Khongsang National Highway 2 road), 2016.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West on Wednesday put up the matter for further proceedings, summoning all three accused for further hearing. The court stated that the case was kept in abeyance till investigation is over, awaiting investigation report from CBI.
The charge was submitted against Ningombam Ibochouba (contractor), Gautam Kumar Roy (the then deputy manager of HDFC, Imphal branch), Deepak Kant Gupta (managing director of M/S Woodhill Infrastructure Limited) under section 120-B, 420, 511, 467, 471 IPC. The CBI also added the company Woodhill Infrastructure Limited through its managing director under the offences punishable.
The case pertaining to fraudulent issuance of bank guarantee amounting to Rs 6,62,00,000 in connection with the temporary restoration of National Highway-137 (Tamenglong-Khongsang road) was registered by the CBI in 2019, after the Central government ordered the CBI for carrying out a probe that was registered at the City Police, Imphal in 2016 and also submitted the chargesheet.
While the chargesheet submitted by the City Police was kept into abeyance, on August 6, 2015, Woodhill Infrastructure Ltd was awarded the contract for temporary restoration of a 40-km stretch of the NH-137 after successful bidding. Subsequently, the Ministry directed the company to submit the relevant documents, including bank guarantee to National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), the implementing agency, for signing the contract.
The CBI stated that the accused Deepak Kant, the then managing director of Woodhill Ltd entered into a criminal conspiracy with accused Ibochouba, the contractor towards submission of fake guarantee before the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and in pursuance to that conspiracy accused Ibochouba got prepared the fake bank guarantee (BG) through accused Guatam Kumar Roy, the then deputy manager of HDFC, Imphal branch. The BG was submitted to the MoRTH, HQ, New Delhi on October 14, 2015 prepared by Ganesh Sharma, as per direction of accused Ibochouba. Accordingly, the accused made an attempt to cheat NHIDCL, by submitting fake performance bank guarantees.
The CBI investigation also revealed that NHIDCL received 8 numbers of BGs in respect of some other bids (related to different other projects of Manipur state) and all those BGs were found fake during the process of their verification. Since, all the fake BGs were issued by HDFC, Imphal branch. The NHIDCL declared to reverify the genuineness of the subject Bank Guarantee.
Regarding the fake BG, the NHIDCL also issued a show-cause notice to M/S Woodhill Infrastructure Ltd. But since the reply of the show cause notice given by the company was not found satisfactory, NHIDCL terminated the contract agreement with the company.
The matter of termination of contract agreement went before the Arbitral Tribunal. The tribunal on November 2, 2019 directed the company to pay an amount of Rs 1,71,00,000 to the NHIDCL towards the difference of cost of work payable by NHIDCL due to re-bidding of the project. Till that, the company deposited Rs 70,24,500 in three phases to the NHIDCL. However, civil proceedings do not mitigate the criminal offences committed by the accused persons in the instant case, stated the CBI.