Bank fraud: Ratul Puri moves bail plea

A Delhi court on Friday sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail application filed by businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case related to a bank loan fraud.

Special judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to the ED and directed it to file a reply by November 30.

The ED had last month filed a charge sheet against Puri and company Moser Baer before Special Judge Sanjay Garg and the court is scheduled to take up the matter later in the day.

The ED had arrested Puri on August 20. He is currently in judicial custody in the case.

Puri is also in judicial custody in another money laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

In the chopper scam, the Delhi High Court had earlier dismissed Puri’s anticipatory bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was “required for an effective investigation”.

Puri was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the bank fraud case after he appeared before the central probe agency here in the chopper scam.

The latest PMLA case, filed by the ED, emerged from a CBI FIR of August 17, where Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India.

The bank had claimed that the company and its directors forged and fabricated documents to induce the Central Bank of India to release funds.

The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.

Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as executive director of Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL), a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri.

The company manufactured optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.

Ratul Puri is facing criminal investigation by three main central probe agencies, ED, CBI and the Income Tax department.

The Supreme Court agrees to hear PIL seeking consecutive jail terms in cases of corruption and terrorism

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear after four weeks the PIL seeking various jail terms awarded to a convict under special laws on corruption and terrorism to run consecutively, as in countries like the US, and not concurrently.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde considered the submissions by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay that the plea needed an urgent hearing as the apex court had issued the notice to the Centre way back in March this year.

He said that the pleadings such as filing of responses by the Centre to the petition has already been completed and it be now listed for hearing.

“Let the matter be listed after four weeks,” said the bench, which also comprised justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

The plea had said that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provision, which provides that a convict can serve varying jail terms simultaneously for several offences, should not be made applicable to the convicts in heinous cases.

Section 31 of the CrPC should not apply to special laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), the Black Money and Imposition of Tax Act, and Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, the PIL said.

PMLA Appellate Tribunal also releases assets of 63 Moons from ED attachment.

The PMLA Appellate Tribunal, on Tuesday released the assets of 63 moons from attachment by the Enforcement Directorate
(ED). This order comes soon after the Bombay High Court order, which quashed  the attachments of 63 moons assets under the MPID Act.
However, the Tribunal, after quashing the attachment orders, has made it subject to filing of an indemnity bond within a week. The Tribunal has restrained 63 moons
from dealing with the released assets till pendency of the trial of the larger issues in the PMLA court. 63 moons, based on sound legal advice, is of the opinion that
passing of this sort of restraint order and of seeking an indemnity bond, particularly when the orders of attachment have been quashed, is beyond the power of the
Tribunal under the PMLA. 63 moons will take appropriate legal recourse against this part of the order.

Delhi court allows Robert Vadra to travel abroad on business

 A Delhi court on Friday allowed Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, to travel abroad for business purposes.

Special judge Arvind Kumar granted permission to Vadra to travel to Spain from September 21 to October 8.

Vadra is facing probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Justice Sunil Gaur, Who Rejected Chidambaram’s Bail Plea, Appointed Chairman of PMLA Tribunal

Days after he paved the way for the arrest of Former FM P Chidambaram by denying him interim bail, now-retired Delhi HC judge Justice Sunil Gaur was on Wed. appointed the chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Gaur is set to take over the post from Sept 23. He had retired as an HC judge on Aug 23, 2 days after he rejected Chidambaram’s plea for anticipatory bail & said called him the “kingpin or key conspirator” in the INX Media case. The former HC judge also said that granting bail to Chidambaram would convey a wrong message to the society.

Earlier, he had also passed an order clearing the decks for prosecution of top Congress leaders, including Sonia & Rahul Gandhi, in the National Herald case. Justice Gaur was elevated to the HC in Apr 2008. He was designated as a permanent judge on Apr 11, 2012.

Gaur started his career at the Punjab & Haryana HC in 1984 & joined the Delhi Higher Judicial Service in 1995.

During his tenure, he heard several other high profile cases. Last week, he had also denied anticipatory bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of senior Congress leader & MP CM Kamal Nath, in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.

ED to High Court: Seized Choksi firm’s jewellery for involvement in laundering

Jewellery stock of Gitanjali Gems were seized as it was being in direct control of diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who has refused to join investigation, and involved in money laundering, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today told the Delhi High Court.

ED contended that the proceed of crime generated through criminal activities arising out of the scheduled offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were “layered and integrated in the veil of huge bullion/ jewellery business of Mehul Choksi in order to project the same as untainted property, which includes the business of Gitanjali Gems”.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta were hearing a plea by Choksi’s firm challenging the alleged illegal seizure of documents and articles by the probe agency in a money laundering case in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

In its affidavit, ED said, “The jewellery stock of the petitioner (Gitanjali Gems) has been seized with the reason to believe, recorded in writing on the basis of information/ documents in possession, that the petitioner company, being under the direct control of prime accused Mehul Choksi is very much involved in the process of money laundering.”

Billionaire Nirav Modi, his uncle Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam came to light in January following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The ED has registered the money laundering case against Modi, his firms and others on the basis of a CBI FIR.

Delhi Court allows ED to quiz Kashmiri businessman in Terror funding case.

A Delhi court today allowed the Enforcement Directorate to interrogate a Kashmiri businessman in connection with a terror funding case involving LeT chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed to unearth the money trail.

Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat allowed the application filed by ED’s counsel Nitesh Rana seeking permission to quiz Zahoor Watali, an influential businessman allegedly having friendship with Pakistani leaders and Kashmiri separatists, for two days – March 19 and 20.

Watali, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on charges of receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting in Kashmir, is at present lodged in Tihar jail.

He is said to be close to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

In its application, the probe agency said it was conducting an investigation under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against Watali for allegedly receiving funds from abroad.

“In the course of the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the FEMA, the interrogation of accused Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali is required along with recording of separate statements under the PMLA and the FEMA,” it said.

A charge sheet was filed by the NIA in January this year against Hafiz Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin and others for “conspiring to wage war against the government” and fomenting trouble in the Kashmir Valley.

The court had on February 2 taken cognisance of the charge sheet.

The 12,794-page charge sheet also alleged that officials of the Pakistan High Commission here were passing on money through Watali to the separatists.

The separatist leaders have been accused of taking a cut before handing over the money to foment trouble.

Saeed has also been accused of using the services of Watali for passing on the money to the separatists and some individuals who were actively indulging in stone-pelting in various areas of the Valley, the NIA said in the charge sheet.

The agency has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, besides others, with criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

It said 60 locations were raided and 950 documents seized. There are 300 witnesses in the case.

Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has also named hardline pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh, Bashir Ahmad Bhat and Javed Ahmad Bhat as accused.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency in the terror funding case.

Saeed, Salahuddin and their Pakistani handlers informed people about the agenda of violence through “protest calendars”, the charge sheet said. These calendars were released through newspapers, social media and religious leaders, according to it.

These acts were aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir, the charge sheet alleged.

It claimed money was also routed through fake and bogus companies floated abroad and remitted to the Hurriyat leaders in J and K.

Warrant issued against Nirav Modi in Tax evasion case.

A magistrate’s court here today issued a bailable arrest warrant against diamond trader Nirav Modi in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion in purchase of a property which turned out to be “benami”, an Income Tax department official said.

Benami properties are those that are not bought and registered in the name of their real owner. Holding benami properties is an offence.

Modi is also a key accused in the Rs 12,717 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.

“The court has issued a bailable warrant against Modi,” the official said.

He said the department was investigating the matter against Modi since 2017 but declined to disclose the details of the property.

The Income Tax department had recorded the statements of Modi, who is said to be in the US, and some of his employees.

The official said the probe revealed that Modi had given a false statement to department

“When we went to his residence in Worli recently with summons, we found it locked,” the officer said. A case was later filed in the court.

The court adjourned the case till next month.

PNB fraud : ED attaches houses and land worth INR 523cr of Nirav Modi group

 The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday attached 21 properties, including a penthouse and a farmhouse, of Nirav Modi and his group worth over INR 523 crore in fresh action against the beleaguered jeweller in the alleged Rs 11,400 crore fraud in the PNB

The central probe agency said it has issued a provisional order for attachment of the assets, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and seized a INR 81.16 crore valued penthouse (created by joining three flats) and a flat worth INR 15.45 crore in the sea-facing Samudra Mahal apartments in the Worli area of Mumbai

“21 immovable properties of Nirav Modi and companies controlled by him, with a market value of Rs 523.72 crore, have been provisionally attached.

“These include 6 residential properties, ten office premises, 2 flats in Pune, a solar power plant, a farmhouse in Alibaug and 135 acres of land in Karjat in Ahmednagar district,” the agency said.

While the agency had earlier seized gems, diamonds, jewellery, shares, bank deposits and costly cars in this case since it registered a criminal case under PMLA on February 14, this is the first major action to seize immovable assets

While the Samudra Mahal properties and two other flats in Punes Hadapsar area are in the name of Modi and his wife Ami, the assets attached in the pricey Kalaghoda and Opera House area in the Maharashtra capital are in the name of Modi’s diamond firm– Firestarter Diamond International Private Limited.

A farmhouse and adjoining land, worth over INR 42.70 crore,?in the Kihim area of beach-side Alibaug of the Nirav Modi Trust has also been attached

Similarly, a 53-acre solar power plant, valued at INR 70 crore, in the Karjat area of Ahmednagar district of the state has also been brought under the same action.

Two office properties, worth about INR 80 crore, in the name of Mark Business Enterprises Private Limited in the Lower Parel area of Mumbai have also been attached.

With the latest action, the total assets seized by the ED in this case are now over INR 6,393 crore, officials claimed, adding that this was being independently valued

The agency has also summoned Modi, Ami and Modi’s uncle and Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choski for questioning in the case on February 26

Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by the ED and other probe agencies after the fraud recently came to light, following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of INR 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The CBI and the ED have registered two FIRs each to probe the case. Both Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them.

CBI begins questioning of Rotomac owner Vikram Kothari

The CBI today started questioning of Rotomac owner Vikram Kothari at its Headquarters here in connection with alleged loan default of Rs 3,695 crore towards a consortium of seven nationalised banks, officials said here.

Earlier, Kothari was being questioned in Kanpur where his company and residence is located, they said.

He was called here by the agency which started his questioning at its headquarters, they said, without giving any reasons behind the move.

Kothari, his wife Sadhana, and son Rahul, all Directors in Rotomac Global pvt Ltd, have allegedly diverted the bank loans towards purposes other than they were meant for, officials said.

One of the consortium members, Bank of Baroda had approached the CBI requesting an FIR against Kothari as the bank apparently feared he might leave the country, they said.

The CBI registered a case on February 18 after receiving the complaint. Initially, the alleged scam was estimated to be of Rs 800 crore but after the CBI started probe into the accounts of the Rotomac Global Private Limited,it was found that the company had allegedly taken loans from Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Overseas Bank, Union Bank of India, Allahabad ank and Oriental Bank of Commerce.

The CBI alleged that the accused had cheated a consortium of seven banks by siphoning off bank loans to the tune Rs 2,919 crore. The total outstanding amount along with interest and liabilities for the company were pegged at Rs 3,695 crore, the probe agency alleged.

Yesterday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had notified all the land, sea and airports in the country to prevent the exit of the promoter of Rotomac pens, Vikram Kothari, and his family members from India, in connection with its money laundering probe.

The agency also conducted searches at multiple locations in Uttar Pradesh, including in Unnao and Kanpur, to gather evidence in the case.

The ED had slapped criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the company and its promoters on February 18, based on a CBI FIR filed on the same day.

Meanwhile, the Income Tax department had also attached 14 bank accounts of the pen manufacturer as part of its tax evasion probe against the company yesterday.

This is the second major bank fraud to surface in the recent past after the sensational Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, allegedly committed by diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who is a promoter of the Gitanjali Group of companies.

Both Modi and Choksi left the country last month.