KARNATAKA

Officer to probe irregularities in CAMPCO changed

MANGALORE, OCT. 7. The Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies, New Delhi, Satish Chander, who recently ordered an inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the affairs of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO) that reportedly took place between 1998-99 and 2002-03, has changed the inquiry officer.

Earlier, in his order dated August 13, 2004, Mr. Chander had appointed the Director of Cooperative Audit, Karnataka, as inquiry officer.

Modified order

In a modified order dated September 22, 2004, he appointed B.G. Yashod, Additional Commissioner and Special Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Pune, as the inquiry officer.

Case in court

Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. had filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court in the matter of CAMPCO vs. Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies and others, against the August 13 order.

The court in its judgment on the case on September 9, 2004 said: "...the writ petition filed by the petitioner is dismissed as withdrawn, reserving liberty to the petitioner to redress its grievance before the first respondent, and if the petitioner has given a representation to the first respondent, the first respondent is directed to consider the same and pass appropriate order in accordance with law. All the contentions of both parties are left open..."

Representation

Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. gave a representation (dated September 4, 2004) to the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies drawing his attention on the need to change the inquiry officer since CAMPCO was a multi-State cooperative society of Karnataka and Kerala and, hence, the inquiry should be conducted by a "third authority" from any other State.

The inquiry officer was changed later.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Government had drawn the attention of the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies to the alleged irregularities in CAMPCO, including "misappropriation" of Rs. 3.59 crores, between 1998-99 and 2002-03.

State writes to Centre

The State Government wrote to the Centre on February 6, March 19, April 15, May 10, May 26, and June 11 this year.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the inquiry in the order say that (reference two) alleged hasty sale of arecanut conducted by CAMPCO at Kasaragod branch between March and June, 2003, reported in The Hindu in its Coimbatore edition in June 2003, caused losses to the tune of Rs. 4 crores.

Third reference

As per the third reference in the order, there was misappropriation in area sales offices in Mumbai (Rs. 3.09 crores), Bangalore (Rs. 28.47 lakhs and Rs. 7 lakhs in its two offices in the city); Chennai (Rs. 7 lakhs); and Thrissur (Rs. 8 lakhs), and the management allegedly failed to keep vigil and fix responsibility.

The sixth reference said that the Cocoa Chocolate Factory (of CAMPCO) at Puttur suffered losses owing to underutilisation of the installed capacity, irrational fixation of process of cocoa butter and cocoa powder, failure of the marketing system, wrong policies of the management and purchase of cocoa beans from non-members such as Cadbury.

Audit classification

The other references in the order said that the audit classification of CAMPCO deteriorated from "A" in 1998-1999 to "C" in 2001-2002.

Commission

Agencies for trading were appointed at a higher rate of commission, allegedly to promote wrongful gains.

Fake `C' forms

The order said that there was alleged acceptance of fake "C" forms from traders. Undue favour was allegedly shown by the CAMPCO Board of Directors to its sales representatives and agencies in waiving interest. It said that discretional discrepancies were committed by officers and management in discounting bills and fixing responsibilities.