The State Bank of India has filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation against a Delhi-based basmati rice export firm, alleging that its promoters defaulted on loans from six banks worth over Rs 400 crore, NDTV reported on Saturday. The owners of Ram Dev International Limited have been absconding since 2016.

The company was classified as a non-performing asset in 2016. Four years later, the central agency registered a case against company owners – Suresh Kumar, Naresh Kumar and Sangita – on April 28, and issued Look Out Circulars against them. The charges range from forgery and cheating to criminal breach of trust and corruption.

Unidentified officials told NDTV that SBI finally approached the CBI after realising that the recovery of its outstanding amount was “bleak” as the accused persons had sold most of their properties before fleeing the country.

Ram Dev International allegedly borrowed Rs 414 crore from a consortium of six banks. Out of this, Rs 173.11 crore was borrowed from SBI and loans worth Rs 76.09 crore were borrowed from the Canara Bank. The company took Rs 36.91 crore from the Corporation bank and Rs 64.31 crore from the Union Bank of India. The IDBI Bank lent the firm loans worth Rs 12.27 crore.

A copy of SBI’s complaint with the channel stated: “Owing to liquidity problems, the account of the said company became NPA [non-performing asset] on 27.01.2016 with an outstanding of Rs 173.11 crore.” India’s largest lender also said that a special audit by the banks in 2016 showed the accused persons have “falsified the accounts, fudged the balance-sheet and illegally removed the plant and the machinery in order to gain unlawfully at the cost of bank funds.”

After the account was classified as a non-performing asset, SBI had carried out a joint inspection of the company’s properties in August and October 2016. The company’s members were missing during that inspection, the SBI says in its complaint. “Borrowers were not available at the time of joint inspection and Haryana Police Security Guards were found deployed there,” it said. “On enquiry, [we came to know] that the borrowers are absconding and have left the country.”

“There is absolutely no delay caused in filing the complaint”, the bank said, though the company owners’ “missing” status was confirmed at least a year ago, in a case involving another company that went to the National Company Law Tribunal.

Documents reportedly showed that Ram Dev International was taken to the tribunal over a Rs 30 lakh payment default by a company named Mussadi Lal Krishna Lal. The tribunal had issued warrants thrice to the three directors of Ram Dev International, starting May 2018, but they could not be traced. In December 2018, the tribunal was informed that the accused directors had fled to Dubai and were not available.