The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment has suspended P Sudhakar Babu, the second senior most officer in Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), in the Rs 72-crore PF scam related to Andhra Pradesh-based Chaitanya Group of Educational Institutions. The case is being investigated by the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, Hyderabad, which requested for his suspension.
Sudhakar Babu was earlier posted in Hyderabad as Additional Central PF Commissioner. He was later posted as Additional Central PF Commissioner of Karnataka and Goa states. Babu was suspended Friday evening based on a request by the CBI which had filed an FIR last September against Babu and four regional PF commissioners — G R Suchindernath, K S Arya, A Ravi Kumar, and S S Shastry. “Sudhakar Babu is the main accused in the case, we had sent a request to the ministry. The investigation is still going on, it is a very lengthy process,’’ CBI SP H Venkatesh said on Sunday.
According to the FIR, in March 2006 these five PF officers, conducted raids at various locations of Chaitanya Group of Institutions in Andhra Pradesh and allegedly found discrepancies in depositing the PF of about Rs 72 crore with the EPFO. Chaitanya Group was allegedly deducting PF from salaries of about 4,500 employees but was either not crediting it to their PF accounts or was crediting lesser amounts or crediting PF accounts of only a few employees. The PF officers calculated that about Rs 72 crore was due from Chaitanya Group to the EPFO. As part of the raid, the officers seized payrolls, accounts books, salary accounts details and other records of about 4,500 employees from various locations across the state.
However, instead of initiating the process of recovering the due Rs 70 crore and penalising Chaitanya Group, the five PF commissioners allegedly made a deal with the educational institution and an alleged settlement was reached. Not only did they not take any action, the PF officers also returned all the proof of the alleged irregularities that they seized in the form of documents and account statements. Not a single rupee of Chaitanya employees’ PF dues was recovered and the PF Commissioners closed the matter, the FIR states.
The CBI is also looking if officers of the Vigilance department of EPFO, New Delhi, which had allegedly recommended minor penalty against the erring officers and no action against Chaitanya Group, had any role in it.