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Online Figleaf

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Milking accounts
« on: February 09, 2008, 11:39:49 AM »
Fraud paid back in same coin

KHELEN THOKCHOM

Imphal, Feb. 5: A fraud who robbed nine fellow employees of the Manipur health department of Rs 19 lakh is being paid back in his own coin.

The money is being withdrawn from Lungdim Mangthang’s salary and GPF accounts at the beginning of every month, just as he had done to his “victims” four years ago.

When the Opposition raked up the 2004 scam in the Assembly today and asked the government why no action was taken against Mangthang even after his “crime” was proved, the answer amused the legislators and visitors alike.

“As you know the matter is serious. If anything happens to him, we will not be able to recover the amount from him. So we decided the best way was to shift him to another place,” said health minister Pheiroijam Parijat Singh.

The “scam” began when Mangthang was posted as the drawing and disbursing officer at a community health centre at Moreh in Chandel district.

He submitted nine “forged” bills on different dates to withdraw more than Rs 19 lakh from the GPF accounts of nine medical staff posted there.

The hapless employees’ ordeal did not end there.

Since Mangthang withdrew more money than the PF accounts contained, the finance department ordered that the withdrawn amount be recovered from their salaries. As a result, some of the employees did not receive salaries for months on end.

Mangthang withdrew Rs 2.16 lakh from N. Deveshore’s account.

But Deveshore did not have that much money in his account. So the department deducted from his salary the “excess” amount withdrawn.

When the fraud was detected, a House Committee and the vigilance department declared the employee guilty of “forgery” and “fraudulent withdrawal” of employees’ money.

Police registered a criminal case against the doctor next year.

In normal course, Mangthang should have been placed under suspension and in jail.

But the health department gave him a transfer order instead — to a health centre at Henglep in Churachandpur.

The health authorities are convinced that his “arrest” or “suspension” would come in the way of “punishing” the fraud. And what better way to punish him than withdraw money from his account in exactly the same way as he had done to his unsuspecting colleagues.

“We did not arrest him nor do we want to suspend him because these would come in the way of our efforts to recover the amount withdrawn by him,” Parijat Singh said.

“We have already recovered Rs 4 lakh from Mangthang. We will recover the remaining amount from his salary and GPF account. He had also forged the signature of then deputy secretary health Chandramani Singh to carry out his operation,” he told the Assembly today.

When leaders of the Manipur Peoples Party, N. Bijoy Singh and I. Ibohalbi Singh, still insisted that the treatment meted out to the fraud was not enough, the health minister assured the House that Mangthang would certainly be punished — but only after the entire amount was recovered.

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta, India
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.