Amidst the ongoing hullabaloo surrounding Assam Co-operative Apex Bank, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stepped into the spotlight on Thursday (October 19), resolutely defending the financial institution's autonomy from the state government.
Despite acknowledging the government's role in appointing a Managing Director in the past, the Chief Minister made it clear that the bank is not under government ownership or control; rather, it functions as a public bank, a news report stated.
He also extended an open hand, offering government support for any necessary investigation.
The Chief Minister’s declaration unfolded against a backdrop of allegations implicating the bank in the disbursal of over Rs 20 crore to controversial business tycoon Rajesh Bajaj via the Demand Bill Purchase (DBP) route.
A day earlier, Sivsagar MLA Akhil Gogoi pointed fingers directly at the Assam Co-operative Apex Bank's managing director, Dambaru Saikia. He firmly asserted, "While initially, Biswajit Phukan pointed fingers at the branch manager regarding the entire financial transaction, we have now unearthed evidence that Northeast Plantation and Commercial Pvt Ltd sent a request to the MD of the Assam Apex Bank on April 3, 2023, seeking Rs 15 crore through DBP, followed by another Rs 20 crore. This unequivocally spotlights the MD's deep involvement in this scandal."
Gogoi went on to underscore that a substantial paper trail validates the bank MD's central role in the DBP controversy, dispelling the notion that a mere branch manager could orchestrate such a substantial transaction. This uproar has significantly shaken the trust in the bank's internal governance and oversight.
Joining the chorus of growing concerns, Congress leader Debabrata Saikia raised questions about the authority of the bank manager to disburse Rs 20 crore without the requisite approvals. Saikia vehemently called for a comprehensive investigation into the matter to ascertain the extent of responsibility and accountability within the bank.