March 12, 2018 / 8:37 AM / 2 months ago

India's Andhra Bank shares slide amid fraud probe involving ex-director

MUMBAI, March 12 (Reuters) - Shares in India’s state-run Andhra Bank, already hurt by an industry-wide spillover of a huge scam in another lender, fell to a near 15-year low after additional charges were filed against a former director in a separate long-running case of alleged fraud.

The Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crime, said on Friday it filed additional charges against Anup Garg, a former director of Andhra Bank, in connection with a more than 50 billion rupee ($769.3 million) fraud case involving Sterling Biotech that was filed last year.

Authorities have accused senior executives of Sterling and Garg of “criminal conspiracy” and falsifying accounts to allow Sterling to raise much larger loans than it would have been able to otherwise.

Over 50 billion rupees in loans to Sterling Biotech are for now classified as non-performing assets. Andhra Bank is the lead lender to the pharmaceutical contract manufacturer.

India's federal police, the Central Bureau of Investigation, had filed a complaint in the case last year in October. bit.ly/2GiplQB

A $2 billion fraud disclosed last month in second-biggest state-run lender Punjab National Bank has shaken the country’s financial sector at a time when Indian banks are battling near-record $146 billion of soured assets.

After the PNB fraud case, the government has ordered banks to probe all non-performing loans of more than 500 million rupees to see if there was any sign of any fraud.

Andhra Bank has yet to reply to a stock exchange notice on Monday seeking clarification on the latest complaint. Sterling Biotech and Garg were not immediately available for comment.

Andhra Bank shares, which fell as much as 17.1 percent to their lowest since July 2003, were trading 11.5 percent lower at 34.05 rupees by 0725 GMT.

Sterling Biotech fell 3.5 percent, its maximum daily limit, to 2.75 rupees ($0.0423). ($1 = 64.9950 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Arnab Paul and Devidutta Tripathy Editing by Euan Rocha and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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