Scam running into crores in JKEPFO office detected by CBI in Jammu

JKEPFO office at Railway Station Jammu which was raided by the CBI on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
JKEPFO office at Railway Station Jammu which was raided by the CBI on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Workers’ PF withdrawn using fake accounts

Record seized, staff to be questioned soon

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 27: The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has come across major scam that might run into crores in the JK Employees Provident Fund Organization (JKEPFO) in which officers and officials reportedly opened fake accounts of workers who had shifted to other States/Union Territories during COVID pandemic last year and withdrew amount deposited in their names by various establishments.

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Sensational scam by the JKEPFO office headquartered at Railway Station came to light recently when some of the workers started returning to Jammu and Kashmir after COVID pandemic eased and inquired about their accounts with the Provident Fund to withdraw part of the amount only to find that their accounts had either been closed or there was no amount left in them, sources told the Excelsior.
Workers approached the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) which launched preliminary investigations in the case after obtaining relevant information from the persons who had been duped by officers/officials of the EPFO. After substantiating claims made by the workers to quite an extent, the CBI today conducted raids at the JKEPFO office.
“During raids, records pertaining to withdrawal of amount of several workers for past about two years has been seized for scrutiny to ascertain details pertaining to withdrawl of amount of workers in their absence,” sources said, adding exact number of workers who have lost their amount to corrupt practices adopted by the JKEPFO officials is yet to be ascertained.
Amount of the workers withdrawn by the staff is also matter of scrutiny, they said.
“Officials and officers of the JKEPFO, who belonged to Jammu and Kashmir, will be called for questioning in connection with the scam,” sources said, adding that exact amount involved in the case couldn’t be ascertained immediately but it appeared to be huge.
It may be mentioned here that after Jammu and Kashmir was made a Union Territory in August 2019, it took a lot of time to the J&K PF officials to handover complete record to Central EPFO. In between, the scam appeared to have been committed by the staff of J&K PF officials, sources said.
Worthwhile to report here that many workers hailing from different States of the country had been engaged by the industry in Jammu and Kashmir. However, with spread of COVID pandemic in March-April last year followed by lockdown, several workers had returned to their States/Union Territories.
But with COVID situation now near normal, the workers started returning to Jammu and Kashmir. The scam surfaced when some of them approached the EPFO office for withdrawal of their amount only to find that it already stood withdrawn. The workers then knocked doors of the CBI.
The CBI suspects that some officers/officials of the JKEPFO appeared to have opened fake accounts of the employees and withdrew their amount but all this is subject matter of investigations, they said.
Meanwhile, Harinder Singh, Regional PF Commissioner-II EPFO Regional Office Jammu clarified that the office of EPFO RO Jammu working under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India and JKEPFO working under Jammu and Kashmir administration are located in the same building.
He said no raid was conducted in the Regional office of EPFO.
“EPFO is committed towards social security of subscribers and providing service delivery to all stakeholders/members in a transparent online IT enabled service. Our office functioned smoothly today and settled about 800 claims till 6 pm,” Harinder said.