The Congress party on Sunday hit out directly at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the massive Rs 22,842 crore bank scam, which the CBI has unearthed against private ship-building firm ABG Shipyard with major stakes in Gujarat.
Addressing press conferences in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad respectively, Congress’ spokespersons Randeep Surjewala and Shaktisinh Gohil, who is also a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat, called out the Modi Government when in Gujarat and now for the scam in which 28 banks were duped.
Gohil, a former Gujarat minister, accused Narendra Modi of being hand in glove with the promoters of ABG Shipyard. He tweeted: “Rishi Agarwal was always seen in vibrant (Gujarat investor) summits with Mr Modi. He was part of the delegation led by the then CM of the state Narendra Modi to South Korea in 2013. He is now accused of defrauding a consortium of SBI of over Rs 22,842 crore, in the biggest bank fraud case.”
Gohil and Surjewala alleged that “This scam is worse than the Vijay Mallya scam.”
Gohil added, “Rishi’s case is even worse than Vijay Mallya because his total debt is (Rs) 22,843 crore for ABG Shipyard, (Rs) 2,500 crore for ABG cement (rechristened as Vadraj cement) and Rs 500 crore for ABG Energy.”
Both Congress spokespersons asserted that the Modi government “is running a ‘Loot & Escape’ Flagship scheme for Fraudsters. “India’s Biggest Bank Fraud in 75 years has taken place under Modi Govt’s watch,” the party has alleged.
Gohil said in the last seven years “bank frauds of Rs 5.35 lakh crore have wrecked our banking system.” And that many fraudsters have had a close connection to the ‘ruling establishment’.
Shaktisinh Gohil said, “Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Ami Modi, Neeshal Modi, Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Jatin Mehta, Chetan Sandesara, Nitin Sandesara and Rishi Agarwal & others are the new ‘GEMS’ of the ‘Shehenshah’.”
Citing the chronology of the case, he said, the ABG case exposed the “complicity, collusion and connivance” of the Modi Government in India’s “Biggest Fraud”:
1) August 1, 2017: The process of liquidation of ABG Shipyard was initiated in NCLT, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, against ABG Shipyard for bank default.
2) February 15, 2018: The Congress party publicly warned about the scam of ABG Shipyard’s Rishi Agarwal.
3) June 19, 2019: The loan and bank accounts of ABG Shipyard were declared as “fraud”.
4) November 8, 2019: The State Bank of India filed a complaint to CBI for registration of FIR against ABG Shipyard’s Rishi Agarwal & others. Despite the apparent fraud and swindling of public money; CBI, SBI and Modi Govt proceeded to complicate the entire matter in bureaucratic wrangling and file-pushing. This happened for years as the public money went down the drain and fraudsters gained.
5) August 25, 2020: SBI filed a second complaint to CBI for lodging of FIR against ABG Shipyard’s Rishi Agarwal & others. What is intriguing is that the SBI exonerated all the bankers in the case.
6) February 7, 2022: Finally, after a delay of 5 years, the CBI lodged an FIR against ABG Shipyard’s Rishi Agarwal & others for cheating, fraud and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Some Intriguing Facts:
1. ABG Shipyard was allotted 1,21,000 square metres of land in 2007 by the Gujarat Government headed by the then Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. The CAG indicted the Gujarat Government for undue favour to ABG Shipyard and Rishi Agarwal for allotting land at Rs 700 per square metre, while the price of land was 100% higher i.e Rs 1,400 per square metre.
2. Despite the CAG report, the Gujarat Govt headed by the then CM Narendra Modi proceeded to allot 50 hectares of land to ABG Shipyard and Rishi Agarwal in Dahej, Gujarat. The Dahej project was shut down by ABG Shipyard in the year 2015.