Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CBI probes ICICI Lombard for alleged fraud

CBI today registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against ICICI Lombard for allegedly colluding with officials of Rajasthan government and Union Agriculture and Textiles ministries and pocketing claims of non-existing farmers and artisans. In the first case, CBI registered a PE against unknown officials of ICICI Lombard, Rajasthan and Union Agriculture ministries for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy and forging documents to seek insurance cover under the "weather-based crop insurance scheme" by the government, official sources said.
According to the scheme, ICICI Lombard used to insure crops in which the farmer had to pay 20 per cent of the sum of the premium where asremaining 80 per cent of money was shared by Rajasthan Agriculture department and Union Agriculture Ministry. The CBI alleged that officials of the insurance company made "bogus enrolment" of nearly 2,100 farmers to secure 80 per cent share of government thereby causing loss to the exchequer, the sources said. The CBI officials said this was a data of only Ganganagar district for a period of 2009-10 and the agency would be carrying out similar probes in other districts and states where the insurance company was undertaking this scheme. When contacted, the company said that it has diligently honoured claims in the schemes despitesuffering huge financial losses. "The company, during or after enrollment of beneficiaries, had initiated investigation on its own, through its in-house investigation function as part of its continuous monitoring process.
"Wherever any discrepancy was observed, the company on its own approached the concerned government body, sought necessary advise and promptly acted upon the advise so received," the company said in a statement. Another case pertained to "Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swathys Yojna" (RGSSBY) in which it was alleged that 11,000 artisans registered under the scheme were non-existent, the sources said.Both the cases were registered after a thorough internal probe carried out by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).Giving details of the cases, the sources said the weather insurance policy sold by the company to Rajasthan government raised eyebrows when a claim of Rs 13 crore was made by it.
It was alleged that out of the 3,158 farmers under the policy, 2,093 farmers were found to be non-existent and the insurance company started settling the claims by way of issuing cheques even in the name of non-existent addresses thereby keeping the door of cheque discounting open.
According to the complaint, the company has made the payments of Rs 14.37 crore asagainst premium of Rs 6.42 crore received and ICICI Lombard informed the regulator that all cheques had been distributed on individual names of farmers and not a single cheque was undelivered and all the cheque payments made were encashed by the claimants.In another case related to health insurance, the CBI alleged that people registered under it did not even meet the eligibility criteria for receivingthe benefits and were fraudulently enrolled for which the premium was taken from the government.
According to the PE, the insurance company had allegedlymisappropriated at least Rs 8 crore from the Government.The CBI claimed that no health cards were issued to the Khadi workers who did not qualify under the scheme.

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