Karnataka official dies by suicide, alleges superiors pressured him to illegally transfer ₹85 crore; case transferred to CID

The deceased's widow said that her husband was honest at work and never discussed office matters at the house.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 29, 2024 | 7:05 AMUpdatedMay 29, 2024 | 7:59 PM

Karnataka government official dies by suicide

A 48-year-old government official employed by Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribe Development Corporation Ltd (KMVSATDC) died by suicide, alleging in his suicide note that some officials pressured him to transfer crores of money to an unofficial account.

“I am not a coward but cannot bear humiliation, I could not think of any other way,” was the last sentence penned by KMVSATDC’s late superintendent P Chandrashekar on Sunday, 26 May.

In the six-page suicide note accessed by South First, he has levelled corruption allegations to the tune of 85 crore against the KMVSTDC’s Managing Director, Accountant and Union Bank of India’s MG Road branch manager.

Based on the death note, an FIR was registered against the three accused at Vinobanagara Police Station in Shivamogga on 27 May.

Two days after the suicide of the government official, the Congress government, on 28 May, transferred the case to the Central Investigation Department (CID).

Meanwhile, KMVSTDC’s Managing Director JG Padmanabha has alleged that his signature was forged to transfer the money from the official account to another bank account illegally and that he was unaware of the said transactions.

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Husband was an honest man, says widow

Chandrashekar’s spouse CP Kavitha, a computer operator by profession, told reporters: “My husband was working as an accountant in KMVSTDC in Bengaluru. He had come home (Shivamogga) as there were holidays on 25 and 26 May.”

“I and my son had gone to one of our relatives’ houses to attend the funeral of my uncle on 26 May. When we returned home, we both found him hanging himself at home,” detailed Kavitha.

She also said that her husband was honest at work and never discussed office matters at the house and urged the government to initiate action against the accused.

“My husband was sincere and honest with work. He never used to discuss office matters in the house. We are shocked by his passing. The government must initiate action against all those officials that are the reason for the demise of my husband,” said Kavitha while speaking to reporters. The deceased is survived by his wife and two sons.

Based on the death note, she filed a case against the two government officials and bank manager before the Vinobanagara PS. The police have booked the accused KMVSTDC’s Managing Director JG Padmanabha, accountant G Parashuram and Union Bank of India’s MG Road Bank Manager Shushmitha Ravul under Sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 34 (the acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC.

In his suicide note, he alleged that the irregularity was to the tune of 80-85 crore.

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Chandrashekar’s suicide note

A day after he died, a death note was reportedly recovered from his residence late at night on 26 May. In the suicide note, he wrote, “I am hanging myself and the following persons are the reason for it: KMVSTDC’s Managing Director JG Padmanabha, accountant G Parashuram and Union Bank of India’s MG Road Bank Manager Shushmitha Ravul.”

“In March 2024, I was directed by an officer to write a letter for the transfer of sweep-in and sweep-out accounts from Union Bank of India’s Vasanth Nagar branch to MG Road. I was asked to write that it (bank account transfer) is requested on the oral directions of a minister,” mentioned Chandrashekar.

He continued, “When Vasanth Nagar’s bank manager Shobha denied the account transfer, forcefully zero balance account was transferred to the MG Road branch on 4 March. To the MG Road branch’s bank account, the following transfers were made (from the various bank accounts of a corporation): ₹25 crore was transferred on 4 March, ₹25 crore on 6 March, 44 crore on 21 March 2024, and from the state treasury 43.33 crore and 50 crore were transferred on 21 May, 2024.”

“A total of 187.33 crore was transferred to another account from various accounts of the KMVSTDC and state treasury. The bank has not provided a chequebook or bank passbook for the said account. I couldn’t contact the bank because of the pressure,”  he explained.

“Every time KMVSTDC’s MD Padmanabha used to pressurise me and get the funds transferred. I couldn’t understand their conspiracy. On 21 May 2024, the MD directed the accountant to write a cheque of 50 crore and confidentially withdraw the same. Despite being denied by the accountant, he was directed to follow the orders. Then, the MD used to call me frequently asking to visit the bank and get the said amount transferred through RTGS. When I visited the bank, the branch manager refused to provide details of the account, reasoning that the authorised person must turn up for the withdrawal or provide a letter,” added Chandrashekar.

He further alleged: “I then conveyed the same to the MD over the phone. I also told the branch manager that I would turn up tomorrow with a letter. Then, she replied that she would come to the office.”

“She came to the office and told us that we had received the chequebook. When I enquired with the staff, we got to know that we had not received any chequebook. Then, I immediately visited the bank along with the MD. It was found that the amount was withdrawn and the records were showing that it had the signatures of MD and accountant,” added Chandrashekar.

“Thereafter, we filed a detailed complaint before the regional head G Mahesh. But, the MD spoke with one of the staff of the Minister for Scheduled Tribe Welfare (B Nagendra) and said that they would get the money returned and keep it confidential till then. He also claimed that they have got 5 crore return but there is no evidence to prove this claim,” he wrote.

“It appears that around 80 crore to 85 crore grants of ST Welfare have been swindled illegally. I do not have any role in this. My mistake is that under work pressure, I could not collect the chequebook and close the cash book. These are the three reasons for my situation,” alleged Chandrashekar.

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Case transferred to CID

Two days after the suicide of the government official, the Karnataka government transferred the case to CID for a detailed probe into the allegations. Minister for ST Welfare B Nagendra announced that the case has been entrusted to the CID for further investigation.

Minister Nagendra told reporters: “The government officer suicide case has been transferred to the CID. They will look into all the matters including the death note and allegations made in it. I was deeply pained by the demise of Chandrashekar.”

“KMVSTDC’s MD Padmanabha has also filed a complaint stating that his signature was forged and is unaware of these illegal fund transfers from one bank account to another bank account. The irregularities have been alleged to the tune of 85 crore. As per the prima facie, it appears that bank employees are also involved in this scandal,” stated Nagendra.

He said that the Union Bank of India chairperson has assured that all the money will be refunded.

“We have spoken with the chairman of the Union Bank of India. He has assured me of refunding all the lost money. We have already recovered around 28 crore from the bank. The bank has assured that they will transfer another 50 crore by Tuesday (28 May). We have issued a warning to the bank on the matter. If they fail to transfer 50 crore on Tuesday, we will initiate action,” stated the Minister for ST Welfare.

He denied allegations of being involved in the case and pointed out: “The said bank account transfer has been initiated after the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in place. When the MCC will be in place, we will not be authorized to do such a huge transaction.”

“I am holding a constitutional position and never give oral orders. I will always convey my orders through an official letter. I am unaware of why my name is being dragged when he has not taken my name in the death note. I have never spoken with these officials. I have barely held meetings with KMVSTDC officials. Based on the CID report, the government will initiate action against the accused,” assured Nagendra.

(Edited by Neena)

(If you need support or know someone who has suicidal thoughts, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist or contact the helpline numbers of suicide prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families. Tele-MANAS: 14416; Arogya Vani: 104: Sahay Helpline: 080-25497777)