KIADB cheated of Rs. 73 lakh

Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) has been defrauded of Rs. 73.69 lakh. The money was supposed to be spent to compensate people displaced by Phase I of the controversial Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) project.

Speaking to The Hindu, Special Land Acquisition Officer of KIADB Prabhulinga Kavalakatti said the issue came to light on December 18 during an internal audit. A case was registered with the Panambur police the same day.

He said that during the audit it was found that several acres of land, for which compensation had been paid, did not actually exist. Mr. Kavalakatti claimed that his signature was forged to sign several cheques in the favour of a fictitious person called Krishnadasa, who was projected as a land-loser. The money was withdrawn from the KIADB account at the Kavoor branch of the Corporation Bank.

When the bank authorities asked for proof of displacement, the fraudster created fake land documents under five survey numbers in Bala village. The signatures on these documents had the forged attestations of the Special Land Acquisition Officer.

While the issue might have come to light only recently, the fraud itself has been going on since September. Investigating Officer from the Panambur police station Inspector K.M. Chandrashekar says that some of the first cheques were presented to the bank in early September this year. In the three months to date, several cheques have been successfully presented by the fraudster.

Mr. Chandrashekar also says that over Rs. 40 lakh has been transferred to another bank account in another name. But recovering that money too is expected to be a tough task given the stringent banking guidelines.

Investigating authorities believe that a nexus involving a KIADB employee, some MSEZ Ltd. officials, civil contractors and local villagers led to the crime. The Panambur police claimed that the principal offender is a KIADB official.

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