The Finance Ministry has revealed that the top 50 wilful defaulters, including companies such as Gitanjali Gems Limited, owned by fugitive Mehul Choksi, and ABG Shipyard Limited, together owe a staggering ₹87,295 crore to various banks and financial institutions in India.

In response to a written query in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Finance, Bhagwat Karad, stated that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has apprised that the amount owed by these top 50 wilful defaulters in Schedule Commercial Banks (SCBs) amounted to ₹87,295 crores as of March 31, 2023.

The data further reveals that among the top 10 wilful defaulters, ₹40,825 crore is owed to schedule commercial banks. Leading the pack of wilful defaulters is Gitanjali Gems, with a whopping debt of ₹8,738 crore. Following closely is Era Infra Engineering Limited, which owes ₹5,750 crores, followed by REI Agro Limited with ₹5,148 crores, ABG Shipyard Limited with ₹4,774 crores, and Concast Steel and Power Limited with ₹3,911 crores.

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A “wilful defaulter” is described as a borrower who intentionally avoids repaying a loan despite possessing adequate funds to do so.

In another related disclosure, Minister Bhagwat Karad informed the House that schedule commercial banks have written off an aggregate amount of ₹10,57,326 crore for the financial year 2022-23.

Additionally, the Minister also revealed that during the previous financial year (FY 22-23), approximately 66,069 fraud cases were reported, causing a loss of ₹85.25 crore.

The disclosure of such substantial debts and fraud cases highlights the need for robust measures and stringent actions to address the issue of wilful defaulters and protect the interests of the banking sector.