Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Aug 4:
The name of Bhushan Steel Limited (BSL), which runs a controversial steel plant in Odisha, has surfaced in the bribery case that led to the arrest of Syndicate Bank CMD Sudhir Kumar Jain by the CBI on Saturday over allegations that he was seeking bribes to favour a New Delhi-based company.
CBI spokeswoman Kanchan Prasad on Monday told international news agency Reuters that the company concerned was Bhushan Steel Ltd, which was paying bribe money of Rs 50 lakh to Jain’s relatives through middlemen to win loan extensions after defaulting on repayment.
The CBI on Saturday recovered the Rs 50 lakh that Bhushan Steel Ltd was allegedly paying via middlemen to the Syndicate Bank’s head for a loan extension, the report said.
According to sources, the CBI has already registered a case against the vice-chairman of Bhushan Steel Ltd. Neeraj Singhal in the matter.
Neeraj, the sources said, has gone into hiding following the development.
Prasad said the investigation could be widened to look at possible links between executives of other companies and state-run lenders.
According to sources, Bhushan Steel has procured bank loans worth Rs 10.864 crore by mortgaging 1464 acres of land allocated to it in Dhenkanal district by the state-run Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), Odisha.
Bhushan Steel, however, refuted the charges and said it was in the process of taking appropriate “legal recourse”.
“Please note that our company is not involved in any manner with regard to the alleged payments and the same are denied and hence in our opinion would not have any material impact,” the company was quoted in the Reuters report as having said in its stock exchange filing.
The CBI spokeswoman said eight other people, including two directors of Prakash Industries Ltd – a company with interests in steel, power and mining – and middlemen, had been arrested over bribery allegations.
The Syndicate Bank had registered a 7 percent increase in quarterly net profit and higher bad loans last week.
The Reuters report said shares in Syndicate Bank closed 6.9 percent lower, after falling as much as 8.5 percent during trade on Monday following Jain’s arrest. Prakash Industries slumped by their maximum daily limit of 20 percent, while Bhushan Steel closed 3.6 percent lower.
( With inputs from the Reuters report by Aditya Kalra and Devidutta Tripathy)