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ICICI Bank manager remanded to 4-day police custody in Rs 13 crore siphoning case

An ICICI Bank manager, accused of siphoning off Rs 13 crore from the NRE/NRO account of an NRI customer, was on Saturday remanded to four-day police custody.

The Vikaspuri branch manager, Varun Vashishta, is accused of transferring the money to about 50 beneficiaries.

Delhi Police had sought 10-day custody of the accused to unearth the entire conspiracy as well as to probe the role of other accused persons and confront/verify various documents, which were fabricated by the accused. However, the court remanded the accused to four-day police custody and posted the matter for further hearing on March 5.

The counsel appearing for Delhi Police had sought custody to get others involved identified.

Appearing for the complainant, Advocate Prabhav Ralli contended that accused Varun Vashishta lured complainant Shveta Sharma to invest her money in FDs for higher returns.

However, they turned out to be fake FDs and the complainant was cheated of Rs 13.5 crore.

Earlier on January 6, 2024, ICICI Bank had filed a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) against Vashishta for siphoning off more than Rs 13 crore by forging the signatures of an NRE account holder.

As per the complaint registered on January 6, 2024 at Vikas Puri Police Station in Delhi, an overdraft facility (amounting to Rs 2.7 crore) was created by Varun Vashishta, Branch Manager, ICICI Bank Vikas Puri Branch by forging signature of a customer on overdraft account opening form. A total amount of Rs 2.68 crore was siphoned off from the account.

The Bank urged the police to register an FIR against Vashishtha in this case.

While the initial amount of fraud was estimated to be around Rs 2.68 crore, further investigation by the complainant revealed that the overall amount of fraud could be close to more than Rs 13 crore.

The amount was likely to go up further to around Rs 16 crore if the interest was also included.

The victim alleged that 50 beneficiaries were identified till date who had received money at various times from the NRE bank account of the complainant without authorisation.

She further alleged that cash to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore was withdrawn from her account over the years and about Rs 9.5 crore was transferred to the said 43 beneficiaries.

The complainant said her husband runs a hotel in Delhi and a point-of-sale machine (POS), and the current account of the said hotel were held at this branch of ICICI Bank. She claimed the money was being deposited regularly in an NRE bank account held at the Vikaspuri branch of ICICI Bank since 2019.

The victim revealed in a letter to the EOW that FD receipts were handed over by the ICICI Bank manager of Vikaspuri branch, with the stamp of ICICI Bank, and it was also emailed from the official Email ID of the bank branch manager.

As per the victim, she never visited the bank branch nor suspected the FDs to be fraudulent since the bank’s branch manager used to visit her home and handover the FD receipts and also emailed the same receipts with the bank’s seal from the bank’s official email ID. Investigation revealed that these FD receipts and interest certificates were forged.

As per the victim, she recently learned that her account was being managed by ICICI Bank Gurgaon branch, whereas she was under the impression that her bank account was being managed by ICICI Bank Vikaspuri branch. No official from the ICICI Bank Gurgaon branch ever contacted her, she added.

She alleged that the fraud which began in 2019 came to light only recently.

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