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UP Govt Orders Probe after Allegations That State Power Corporation Invested Employee's Funds into 'Tainted' DHFL, 2 Held

The issue has sparked a major controversy especially since DHFL’s promoters were recently grilled by the ED over their alleged links with a front company owned by Iqbal Mirchi, a former aide of Dawood Ibrahim.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:November 2, 2019, 8:58 PM IST
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UP Govt Orders Probe after Allegations That State Power Corporation Invested Employee's Funds into 'Tainted' DHFL, 2 Held
File photo of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a vigilance probe after allegations that the state-owned UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) invested employees’ fund, worth Rs 2,600 crore, with the controversial Mumbai company Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) over a span of two years.

The issue has sparked a major controversy, especially since DHFL's promoters were recently grilled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over their alleged links with a front company owned by Iqbal Mirchi, a former aide of gangster and drug dealer Dawood Ibrahim.

Following the ED probe, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had even imposed restrictions on withdrawal for money from the company.

"The issue of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) investment in DHFL is serious. Strict action will be taken against whoever is guilty. All the personnel of UPPCL are members of my family, the government will ensure that no one is hurt," State Power Minister Shrikant Sharma said in a tweet on Saturday.

Two persons were arrested later on Saturday in connection with the case and an FIR was registered at Lucknow's Hazratganj police station.

While one of the accused was identified as PK Gupta and arrested from Agra, the other arrested, Sudhanshu Trivedi, was held from Lucknow.

Gupta was the secretary of the trust when the investments reportedly started.

Sources said the UPPCL decided to go into business with DHFL sometime in March 2017. The money from a trust, comprising employees' contribution in the form of Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPF) deductions, along with other dues, was invested with DHFL.

The allegations raise questions about why DHFL was singled out given its track record.

"Only a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe can find out the real culprits behind this conspiracy to siphon off the hard-earned money of employees," All India Power Engineers Federation Chairman Shailendra Dubey told News18.

Casting doubts over the vigilance probe, Dubey said, "How can the probe by the UP government hope to unearth the culprits behind this conspiracy, especially when the investments are linked with Dawood Ibrahim and Iqbal Mirchi's company and the ED was grilling DHFL officials?

Meanwhile, employees' unions have expressed concern and written to the UPPPCL chairman and the general secretary of the UP State Electricity Board Engineers Association (UPSEBEA) demanding Adityanath's intervention and safeguarding the money of thousands of government employees.

The letter reveals that the Board of Trustees (of the UP State Power Sector Employees Trust) had deposited the surplus fund of employees in DHFL's fixed deposit scheme from March 2017 to December 2018.

The decision to invest was allegedly taken on the insistence of a few senior officials on April 21, 2014. The consent of employee representatives and the unions were not sought in the matter.

The issue has sparked a major political controversy after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet on Friday, "Why did UP's Yogi Adityanath government invest the hard-earned money of employees in a tainted firm. Who was it intending to help?"

The Congress in a tweet on October 31 urged the government to "take necessary steps to secure the depositors' money and ensure that this does not unfold into another PMC bank crisis".

The Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Banks were plunged into crisis following the unearthing of a Rs 4,355-crore scam. The issue sparked massive protests as several depositors took to the streets to claim their money. Six depositors have died since restrictions were imposed on withdrawal of funds.

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