4 charged in museum scam
IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI
The anti-corruption branch of the CBI has filed a chargesheet against four senior officials of Indian Museum for misappropriation of funds.
The agency has been investigating for a year and a half the embezzlement of Rs 18 crore central funds at the museum between 2004 and 2006.
The money was allotted for renovation and restoration of the Chowringhee landmark and other museums in Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. The project, including a scheme to preserve artefacts, was supervised by the Indian Museum authorities.
“We have filed the first chargesheet in the case at Bankshall court. Four senior officials of the museum and two private parties have been named,” a senior CBI official told Metro.
“The museum officials have been booked under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code,” added the CBI official.
The agency had sent a copy of the chargesheet to the Union culture ministry in November for approval. The ministry forwarded it to the museum’s board of trustees.
“We filed the chargesheet only after getting the nod from the ministry,” said another investigator.
After registering a case in 2007 the CBI found that there was no record of the material used for renovation and restoration and filed two more cases. Investigation revealed that employees produced fake expenditure bills to siphon off funds. “The chargesheet in the other two cases will be filed in the next few months,” said the official.
According to investigators, tenders were not floated for awarding contracts and the agencies that bagged the orders existed only on paper.
“Purchase of hundreds of walkie-talkies were shown but only a handful were bought. The purchase bills were also inflated,” said an investigator.
Officials of the Indian Museum also did not visit museums in the Northeast though they provided fake travel bills.