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Institute of Cost Accountants of India land deals under lens
July, 24th 2014

The statutory authority that sets auditing standards to keep an eye on India Inc's cost records is now accused of gold-plating its own costs. A magistrate's court in Pune on July 19 directed Maharashtra police to register a formal complaint against executive members of the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI) for getting into land purchase deals, allegedly at astronomically inflated prices.

A plea filed by a member and past president of ICAI, Dhananjay Vishnu Joshi, alleged that the institute purchased 18 parcels of land at the Rajarhat New Town area of Kolkata for Rs 7.25 crore from vendors, who had bought the same pieces of land just a few days Rs 2.36 crore, or just one-third earlier for the price the institute paid.

While passing the order, which ET has reviewed, AB Shaikh, junior magistrate, said it is misuse of public money for earning profits and the amount involved is not negligible. "Complaint discloses commission of cognizable offence," he said.

"Documents on record show complainant had knocked doors of police, but police failed to take cognizance of of fence. Considering the nature of offence, the amount involved in it, its future repercussions and negligence of police to the cognizance and register offence, it appears indepth and thorough police probe is necessary," he said.

In his petition, Joshi alleged that ICAI's cur rent president SC Mohanty, V-P AS Durgaprasad, former presidents Rakesh Singh and M Gopalakrishnan, and acting secretary Kausik Banerjee have colluded to purchase land at exorbitant prices without following the proper procedure "for obvious reasons".

According to the petition, ICAI's central council had in August 2011 principally agreed to buy land in Kolkata, where it is based, to build a new headquarter for the institute. However, no specific proposal to acquire land was tabled. The plea also alleged that the land purchased is `agricultural land' and the institute will have to get it converted to 'non-agricultural development land'.

One of the accused, ICAI secretary Kausik Banerjee, said, "The matter is sub-judice and all allegations are denied in the writ petition before the court."

Emailed queries to other accused elicited no response as of press time.

Amit Apte, one of the central council members of ICAI, said, "We have requested the government to conduct an investigation into the matter."

He said the issue is about the reputation of the institute. Petitioner Dhananjay Vishnu Joshi confirmed the filing of plea and court order, but declined to share specific details.

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