Several chinks in software make treasuries vulnerable to frauds

Vulnerability of the online system poses threat to lakhs of treasury SB account holders

Published: 12th August 2020 07:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2020 07:17 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fraud at the Vanchiyoor additional sub-treasury has exposed the vulnerability of the online system in the state treasuries which poses threat to public accounts and lakhs of treasury savings bank (TSB) account holders.M R Bijulal, the senior accountant accused to have siphoned off Rs 2 crore from the district collector’s account, used the loopholes in the software for “cancelling a successful debit” from the collector’s  account and also to retain the credit in the TSB accounts in his name and wife’s.

According to an officer who was part of the preliminary probe, the accused must have generated a cheque for the collector’s account. “Every step in the transaction required the clearance of a senior officer. He himself cleared all steps using the ID and password of a retired senior officer. Scores of IDs of retired officers were lying active giving ample scope for fraudsters,” he said.

 The IT wing of the department is headed by unqualified officers, it is learnt. Some officers blamed their incompetence for the problems in the support software developed by the NIC. “Many of us have pointed out serious errors in the system in the monthly meetings. But we were snubbed by the chief IT coordinator in the monthly review meetings,” said a district treasury officer who did not want to be named.

“The online TSB facilitates cash transfer to bank accounts on minus balance. Again problems still exist in the interest paying software despite detection of frauds. We’d pointed out these in the review meetings but nothing changed,” the officer said.Another officer pointed out the difficulties being faced in the handling of FD deposits. “You cannot even print two names on the FD certificate or passbook though it is jointly owned. The passbook printing is illegible and we often face the wrath of customers,” he said. Most of the treasuries have old counting machines which cannot detect fake currencies.   

Five softwares used in the treasuries are developed by the NIC. “The software vendor is never briefed properly and errors continue. This despite the treasury paying the salary of 10 persons hired by the NIC,” he added. Kerala is the only state that runs a savings bank in the treasuries. And it has huge fixed deposits which would envy commercial banks. As per a 2018 report, the department had nearly six lakh fixed deposits worth Rs 14,000 crore. The total deposits, including public and individual accounts, are showing a steady growth every year. It grew from Rs 32,900 crore in 2018 to Rs 43,584 crore in 2020.

Treasury fraud case: Bijulal  sent to 4-day police custody
The District Crime Branch on Tuesday got the custody of senior accountant M R Bijulal, who is accused of siphoning Rs 2.7 crore from Vanchiyoor sub-treasury. The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court granted the cops the custody of the accused for four days agreeing to their argument that Bijulal needs to be questioned further. Meanwhile, the police sources said the investigators have got exclusive evidence to prove Bijulal’s involvement in the crime. “Bijulal was an active online rummy player. He made and lost money in that game. On one occasion, he made as much as Rs 10 lakh. He had also lost a huge amount through the game. The investigators have got the electronic transaction details, but those need to be certified by the firms that run the website,” said the police sources.


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