Himansu Shekhar Rout

A court in Balasore found two persons guilty of fraudulently withdrawing government funds worth Rs 2.45 crore and sentenced each to seven years of rigorous imprisonment on Friday. 

A penalty of Rs 2.5 lakh was imposed on each. In case of default of the fine, the accused persons will have to undergo further imprisonment of 27 months each, the court ruled.

As per reports, the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of the Odisha Police had registered a case, following an allegation from Abhisek Panda, the Executive Officer, Barbil Municipality on March 23, 2022, that Rs 2.5 crore was fraudulently withdrawn from the bank account of the municipality with clone cheques and forged signature of the executive officer. 

During the investigation, the EOW found that the accused persons - Subas Ghisingh Giri and Sayed Shahbaaz Naqvi --  in connivance with others managed to transfer Rs 2,45,60,800 from the account by using the clone cheques and the forged signature of the executive officer.

An amount of Rs 70,16,520 was found diverted to the account of Sayed Shahbaaz Naqvi maintained with Bank of India while Rs 25 lakh was found in the account of Subas Ghisingh Giri maintained with ICICI Bank.

The EOW took the help of the experts from the Hand Writing Bureau and got vital clues from the CCTV footage analysis and from the BSNL authorities. Later, Subhash Ghising Giri was arrested from Barrackpore, West Bengal on March 24, 2022, and Sayed Shahbaaz Naqvi from Raipur in Chhattisgarh the next day. 

As per the EOW, this is the first conviction in Odisha in cheque cloning.