Ratul Puri case: Bank fraud figure to cross Rs 1,400 cr (Lead)

By Anand Singh

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe involving Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, arrested in a money laundering case, has revealed that the amount of the bank fraud is approximately Rs 1,492 crore, much higher than Rs 354 crore as mentioned by the Central Bank of India in its complaint.

An ED source related to the probe told IANS: "Investigation has revealed that Moser Baer had bought Blue Ray discs from Pacific International FZE, a company of Rajiv Saxena, which purchased the same from Singulus Technologies, Germany."

He said the total quantum of purchase was approximately $3.3 million and the price differential per unit was "double" the amount.

"Investigation has revealed that Ratul was the beneficiary of the said tainted money, generated by diverting bank funds through over-invoicing," he said.

He said Saxena started business of supplying solar power panels to the Moser Baer group from Midas Metals International LLC, which were sourced from West Asia Trading and Enertec Ltd.

"The said companies belong to Ratul, and were used for earning a profit margin and diversion of funds," he said.

He said, "The total quantum of business undertaken herein was Rs 1,492.36 crore approximately."

According to the ED source, Ratul was the Executive Director of Moser Baer till 2012, but he remained in the "decision making" of Moser Baer and was a "key" figure in the day-to-day functioning of the company.

The source pointed out that to ascertain the proceeds of crime, many people have been summoned and their statements were recorded during the course of investigation carried out during the custody remand of Ratul.

The source said that the ED's special counsels Vikas Garg and D.P. Singh on Monday argued in court how Puri's counsel Vijay Agarwal was trying his best to delay and jeopardise the probe.

"The ED counsels informed the court that Agarwal had formed a Whatsapp group with all the 25 accused as its members. The Whatsapp group members have been asked to inform him about the ED summons and the replies they need to give to the agency," he said.

"Agarwal has also directed the other accused persons to respond to most of ED's queries with 'cannot remember', 'cannot recollect' and so on," he said.

The source said that Ratul, throughout the course of his custodial interrogation, remained "evasive and non-cooperative" in an attempt to frustrate the ED officials.

He said Ratul had deliberately not provided "crucial documents" related to the books of accounts and bank statements, apart from not disclosing the relevant leads to the said transactions, on one pretext or another.

Asked to furnish details of Moser Baer employees, who used to maintain accounts and other financial documents, including documents related to bank loans, "Ratul denied to having any knowledge of such persons", he said.

"However, investigation revealed that all these persons (accountants and ex-employees who were dealing with banks) have been in regular touch with Ratul, his father (Deepak Puri) and his counsels," the source added.

The ED arrested Ratul late last Monday after filing a money laundering case against him and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL) and others.

He was sent to six days ED custody by a Delhi court, which on Monday extended his custody by four more days.

The CBI had booked Ratul Puri, his company, his father and Managing Director Deepak, Directors Nita Puri (his mother and Kamal Nath's sister), Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.

The ED also wants to question Ratul Puri in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

--IANS

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