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.

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).

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.

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.

ED summons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi in PNB fraud PMLA case

The ED today issued summons for appearance to billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his business partner Mehul Choksi in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 11,400 crore alleged fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB), officials said.

They said both Modi and Choksi were summoned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and asked to depose within a week’s time.

The notices were handed over to the directors of the firms of the two businessmen as they were not in the country.

While Modi runs the jewellery brand chain under his name, Choksie is the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.

The ED had registered a PMLA case against them and others based on a CBI FIR which was the result of a PNB complaint.

The ED yesterday carried out multiple raids on showrooms, workshops, offices and residences of Modi and Choksi and seized diamonds, jewellery and gold worth Rs 5,100 crore.

The agency was probing if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and these proceeds of crime subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

Modi, 46, a regular feature on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, was booked by the CBI, along with wife, brother and Choksi on January 31, for allegedly cheating the state-run PNB to the tune of Rs 280 crore.

The bank has sent two more complaints to the CBI on Tuesday, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 11,400 crore.

The CBI had earlier raided the residences of Modi, his brother, wife and Choksi, all partners of Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds and two bank officials — Gokulnath Shetty (now retired) and Manoj Kharat, who were also named in the FIR as accused.

“The public servants committed abuse of official position to cause pecuniary advantage to Diamond R US, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and a wrongful loss of Rs 280.70 crore to Punjab National Bank during 2017,” the CBI FIR has alleged.

The jewellery designer is a citizen of the country but his brother Nishal and wife Ami are not Indian nationals. They all left India between January 1 and 6, the CBI said.

Guj-based pharma firm’s director Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit arrestedand sent to ED custody

A Director of Gujarat-based pharma firm was arrested  last night in a money laundering case related to an alleged Rs 5,000 crore bank fraud case and  was sent to one day custody of Enforcement Directorate,

As  custodial interrogation was required, Metropolitan Magistrate Sumeet Anand sent Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit to custody after special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana, appeared for the ED.

The ED had sought 14 days custody for the accused.

The magistrate, who was on special duty today, directed the agency to produced the accused before the court concerned tomorrow.

This is the third arrest in the case. The agency had earlier this month arrested a former Director of Andhra Bank, Anup Prakash Garg, and a Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan in November last year.

While Garg is currently in judicial custody, Dhawan was granted bail in January 4. All three were arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

They were named as accused in the cases by the ED and the CBI.

The ED registered a money laundering case in this instance after taking cognisance of an earlier CBI FIR.

The CBI had booked Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, Garg and some unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud case.

It had alleged that the company had taken loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which had turned into non-performing assets.

The FIR had also alleged that the total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016.

PMLA case: 2nd charge sheet filed against Misa Bharti and her husband

 The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a second charge sheet against RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband in a money laundering case before a Delhi court, which today kept both charge sheets for consideration on February 5.

Irked over the repeated filing of charge sheets by the ED in connection with its money laundering probe against Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar, Special Judge N K Malhotra berated the agency for not letting the trial begin.

“Will you let the trial begin or keep filing complaints? How many supplementary charge sheets will you file? You are a premier investigating agency. You cannot behave like this. It is an ill-drafted complaint,” the judge said.

The court, which could not take cognisance of the charge sheet filed on December 23, 2017 against Bharti and Kumar, posted the matter for February 5 for considering both the charge sheets after ED special counsel Atul Tripathi sought time to make further submissions in the matter.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, representing chartered accountant Rajesh Agrawal, who was also arrested by the ED in connection with the case, sought adjournment citing pendency of bail plea of brothers Surendra Kumar Jain and Virendra Jain, who have been accused of laundering crores of rupees using shell companies.

Rajesh Agrawal was arrested by the ED following allegations that he mediated and provided Rs 90 lakh in cash to the Jain brothers in advance to invest in Bharti’s firm Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Pvt Ltd “as share premium”.

The probe agency had earlier attached a Delhi farmhouse in connection with its probe against Bharti and her husband.

The farmhouse, located at 26, Palam Farms in south Delhi’s Bijwasan area was attached provisionally under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

It belongs to Bharti and Kumar and is “held in the name of Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited”, the central probe agency had said.

“It was purchased using Rs 1.2 crore involved in money laundering in the year 2008-09,” it had alleged.

The agency had in July last year raided several locations, including the farmhouse, as part of its probe against the Jain brothers and others.

The Jain brothers were arrested by the ED under the PMLA.

One of the firms that the arrested duo were linked with was Ms Mishail Printers and Packers Private Limited.

The ED had alleged that Bharti and her husband had served as directors of this firm in the past.

“The company, Ms Mishail Packers and Printers, was registered at the address 25, Tuglak Road, New Delhi till the shares were bought by Bharti.

“It was only during the year 2009-10 that the address was changed to farm no 26 Palam Farms, VPO Bijwasan, New Delhi.

Bharti and Kumar were the directors of the company during the relevant period,” the probe agency had said.

The couple were also interrogated and their statements were recorded by the agency in this probe case.

The agency said the Jain brothers, CA Agrawal and the daughter and the son-in-law of the former Bihar chief minister were the “key persons behind the money laundering of Rs 1.2 crore”.

Source : PTI

Court refuses bail to Chhagan Bhujbal, nephew Sameer Bhujbal

Court refuses bail to Chhagan Bhujbal, nephew Sameer Bhujbal
Court refuses bail to Chhagan Bhujbal, nephew Sameer Bhujbal

In a major setback to former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal, a local court today rejected his bail application in connection with cases filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The court also rejected the bail application of his nephew and former Lok Sabha member Sameer Bhujbal.

“Both the bail applications are rejected,” said special PMLA judge M S Azmi.

The order copy will be available later, he said.

The court had rejected the former public works minister’s bail plea, filed on medical grounds, earlier too.

Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a stringent condition for securing bail for a person accused of money laundering, saying it was “manifestly arbitrary”.

Section 45(1) of the PMLA which imposes conditions such as hearing the prosecutor before the bail is granted, was “unreasonable”, the top court had said.

Bail applications of Bhujbals were pending at that time.

After the SC ruling, the court here heard the arguments afresh.

Special public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar argued that the onus of proving that the alleged proceeds of crime were untainted was on the accused.

He added that the Bhujbals’ bail applications mentioned Rs 30 crore, but during interrogation, they admitted to laundering money to the tune of Rs 800 crore.

Chhagan Bhujbal is an influential person and may tamper with evidence. Investigation as to his foreign investments is yet to be over, the prosecutor said.

In 2015, the Enforcement Directorate had registered two ‘Enforcement Case Information Reports’ (ECIRs) under the PMLA against the NCP leader, suspecting illegal transactions to the tune of Rs 900 crore in all.

The first case was about the Maharashtra Sadan and Kalina land allotment scams, while the second was related to a housing project at Navi Mumbai by a construction firm promoted by the Bhujbal family. The firm owners were accused of duping flat buyers after collecting advance.

( Source – PTI )

Court extends separatist Shabir Shah’s ED custody by one day

A Delhi court today granted one more day to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to interrogate Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah in connection with a decade-old case of money laundering for alleged terror financing.

While passing the order, Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Pandit did not agree with the agency’s plea seeking seven more days’ custody of Shah on the ground that it needed to unearth the larger conspiracy.

The ED’s plea was opposed by Shah’s counsel M S Khan.

The sixty-four-year-old separatist leader, who was arrested on July 25, was produced in the court after expiry of his seven-day ED custody.

The agency had earlier issued summonses to Shah in connection with the August 2005 case in which the Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Mohammed Aslam Wani (35), an alleged hawala dealer.

According to the prosecution, Wani had claimed that he had given Rs 2.25 crore to Shah.

The ED had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Shah and Wani.

Wani was arrested with a large cache of ammunition and Rs 63 lakh, allegedly received through ‘hawala’ channels from the Middle East, on August 26, 2005, it had said.

Source : PTI