The Delhi police has begun probe into the Rs. 5 lakh cash embezzlement case in the Press Club of India.
The probe officer, Raj Kiran Chowdhary, on Thursday informed Nirnimesh Kumar, the complainant in the case, that he has issued a notice to Office Secretary Jitendra Singh of the club. He has sought ten days time to reply. So far no reply has been filed, Nirnimesh Kumar informed Bhadhas4Media.
Mr. Kumar, who was recently banned from entering into the club without any specific charges, filed the complaint against the cash embezzlement when he was denied to raise the matter in the last Annual-General meeting. He was shouted down by the storm troopers of the management. The management had mobilised a crowd specially for the occasion to threaten and silence him, Mr. Kumar told the Bhadhas4Media.
Subject: Complaint against embezzlement of Rs. 4,99,861.00 (Four lakh ninety nine thousand eight hundred sixty one) in cash from the accounts of the Press Club of India, henceforth written as PCI.
This a complaint to bring to your notice the embezzlement of the above mentioned amount from the accountant of the PCI.
According to the treasurer of the PCI, Sudhi Ranjan Sen, the shocking incident came to his notice when he inquired about it from the PCI accountant Pawnesh Sharma.
Mr. Sen made this revelation in a letter addressed and emailed to the President, Secretary General and the members of the Finance Committee of the PCI on June 19, 2021.
I quote the relevant portions from Mr. Sen’s letter to make it more clear to you.
“Following the elections held on 11 April 2021, I took charge as the Treasurer of the Press Club of India on 29 May 20211, when I was informed by Sh. Pawnesh Sharma, the accountant of the PCI, that an amount of Rs 4,99,861 (approx. Rs 5 lakh) had been embezzled by Sh. Anil Bartwal, cashier at the PCI.
Sh. Sharma also made available some ledger records and informed the embezzlement was detected around April 2020 and was also kind enough to stamp and sign these documents,” Mr. Sen said in the letter.
“I had requested Sh. Jitendra Singh, the office manager (his real designation is Office Secretary), to put me in touch with auditors of the PCI. Sh.
Singh informed me that the auditors couldn’t be reached which he ascribed to the lockdown that had been imposed in April 2021. Till date of this report, I haven’t been able to speak to the auditors of the PCI despite my best efforts,” Mr. Sen said in his letter.
“As you would be aware, I had raised the issue of embezzlement in the Managing Committee meeting of the PCI held on 29May 2021 during which the office manager, Sh. Jitendra Singh informed the committee as follows:
1.1 That the former Treasurer was aware and had discussed the issue with the office bearers of the previous committee and the former Treasurer had directed the PCI management to recover the amount from the salary of Sh. Bartwal.
1.2. Sh Singh also informed the committee during the meeting that Sh. Bartwal had also given a letter accepting the embezzlement and promised to make good the loss apart from requesting that he be allowed to continue on the rolls of the PCI. In addition, Sh. Singh also informed the committee that about Rs 3 lakh could be recovered from Sh. Bartwal by withholding his gratuity.
1.3. Two members of the finance committee — Sh. Chandrashekar Luthra and Sh. Basant — met members of the staff, i.e., Sh. Singh, Sh. Sharma and the former Treasurer of the managing committee that relinquished charge on 12th April 2021, on 1 June 2021 in the afternoon. And, although, despite my best efforts, I could not be present for the discussions, Sh. Luthra was kind enough to brief me on phone the same evening about the meeting, the details of which follows:
a. The former Treasurer had handed over a copy of the application/ letter from Sh. Bartwal
accepting the embezzlement, promising to make good the loss and also request for allowing him to continue.
b. The former Treasurer had informed him and Sh. Basant that while the issue had been
discussed within the previous committee including the former President and the former
Secretary General (of the previous committee), the issue had never been brought before
the former Managing Committee.
c. The former Treasurer also informed Sh. Luthra and Sh. Basant that Sh. Bartwal had, upon the detection of the embezzlement, didn’t turn up for work and had later informed the former Treasurer and Sh. Singh that he failed to turn up for work due medical emergencies at home.
d. Sh. Luthra also informed me that Sh. Singh, during their meeting, had expressed his
confidence in being able to make good the missing amount by withholding gratuity of Sh.
Bartwal and also recovering the remaining,” Mr. Singh said in his letter.
It is revealing and indicates a cover up of the crime and criminal attempts to save the actual culprits who embezzled the amount from PCI established on a public property that the incident found no mention in the balance sheet of the PCI for 2020-2021.
The present Treasure has also drawn the attention of the present President, Secretary General and the members of the Finance Committee of the PCI to the 2020 balance sheet covering up the crime.
“The plain reading of the Balance Sheet of PCI doesn’t inform members about the deficiency,” Mr. Sen said in his letter which means that either the then Secretary General, the then President, the then Treasurer and the Office Secretary were aware of the embezzlement and decided to hide it from the auditor and thereby from the PCI members or the auditor who audited the accounts of the club for 2020-2021deliberately decided to not mention it in the audit report of 2020-2021 of the PCI. It gives a strong indication of the connivance among all these persons to commit and cover up the crime.
Surprisingly, even after the embezzlement was reported to the Treasurer, Sudhi Ranjan, the managing committee allowed Anil Bartwal to enter the accounts department to fudge the embezzlement amount figures.
“Importantly, the accounts department also informed me a few days ago that Sh Bartwal had produced some more bills from his designated work station to lessen the amount of the embezzlement and the same are with Sh Singh (Jitendra Singh Office Secretary) and had apparently offered to resign. Who gave
Sh Bartwal access to the records and why are serious questions about which my views are recorded in part B (Recommendations for FIR and Forensic audit of the PCI accounts) of this missive,” Mr. Sen said in the letter.
Whether it is a tip of a bigger financial scandal going back to several past years will come to light only when it is thoroughly investigated.
Mr Sen has recommended lodging of an FIR in the matter. “The Press Club of India should register a police complaint immediately even if Sh. Bartwal were to resign,” Mr. Sen said in his letter.
Mr. Sen also sought forensic auditing of the accounts of the PCI indicating his concerns over bigger financial racket in the PCI.
“It is common knowledge that embezzlements are indications absence of robust accounting
procedures and bigger leakages; therefore, a forensic audit must be carried, as I had
recommended during the Managing Committee meeting (held on 29 May 2021) as well.
Importantly, since Sh Bartwal has produced more bills, a forensic audit to determine the
authenticity is a must. And, as Treasurer, I think given the current financial ill- health of the club,
it is imperative that a forensic audit be commissioned at the earliest,” Mr. Sen emphasised.
It may be also mentioned here that the Parliament police station had lodged a cheating and forgery case against the then Secretary General, the then President, the then Treasurer and the then vice president for causing a loss of around Rs. One crore to the club and as much benefit to themselves in 2011, FIR No. 137. The police closed the case without any proper investigation. Then the managing committee filed a protest petition. After appearing for a few dates, the managing committee suddenly decided to be absent from the court proceedings and let the case die. The court dismissed their protest petition, observing that the police report is accepted as the complainant remained absent despite service.
I request you to lodge an FIR under the proper sections of IPC and the Companies Act and file a chagesheet to take the case to a definite conclusion.