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ED arrests key accused in Rs 750 cr Bush Foods bank fraud case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested a key accused in the Bush Foods bank fraud case involving the laundering of Rs 750 crore. The agency has secured his seven-day custody from a special court.

The Central agency produced the accused Sai Chandrasekhar before the Saket district and sessions court here and got the remand for his custodial interrogation, the agency said on Saturday.

Sai Chandrasekhar is accused of representing the level of stocks and inventory. The agency on October 23 had carried out searches at the residential and office premises of Chandrasekhar.

The ED initiated investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Virkaran Awasty, Vinod Sirohi, KPMG India Pvt. Ltd. and others based on the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Economic Offence Wing of the Delhi Police on the basis of a complaint received from Hassad Netherlands B.V. and consequently filed a charge sheet.

Hassad Netherlands B.V., a subsidiary of Hassad Food Company, was induced by Virkaran Awasty and Ritika Awasty, Directors of Bush Foods Overseas Pvt. Ltd., to part with funds amounting to $ 120 million (approximately Rs 750 crore) by misrepresenting the level of stocks and inventory.

On the basis of such misrepresentations the accused persons induced Hassad Netherlands B.V. to provide corporate guarantee for the outstanding amount of Rs 714 crores of credit facilities availed from the consortium of banks.

Credit facilities were availed by Bush Foods Overseas Pvt. Ltd. on the basis of non-existent stocks or inventory.

Investigation under PMLA revealed that Virkaran Awasty along with other directors created bogus stocks by inflating the inventory and fabricating financial statements of the company.

“Bulk transactions of sales and purchases were generated in order that Bush Foods could record increased turnover, profit margins and additional stock by generating approximately equal value of sales and purchases in a year,” the ED said in a statement.

“Artificial profit and artificial stock in the book value of inventory was recorded in the books by showing these bulk sales as domestic sales.”

Chandrasekhar was an employee of Hassad Foods Company and was part of the team which evaluated the transactions, said the ED, adding he colluded and conspired with Virkaran Awasty to cheat Hassad Netherlands.

Chandrasekhar had a pivotal role and responsibility in the business transactions between Bush Foods Overseas Pvt. Ltd. and Hassad Netherlands B.V. He also had a key role in negotiations, discussion and due diligence carried out by Hassad on Bush Foods.

“In lieu of manipulating the due diligence exercise in favour of Bush Foods and knowing that the credentials of the company were not genuine and facilitating the transactions, Chandrasekhar was paid illegal gratification by Virkaran Awasty to the tune of Rs 20.79 crore,” the ED said.

The ED investigation also revealed that Chandrasekhar acquired property located at Indiranagar in Bengaluru worth Rs 5.8 crore for which amount was transferred by Virkaran Awasty from his concern V&R Overseas.

Chandrasekhar also received ‘Proceeds of crime’ to the tune of Rs one crore in the account of his father and mother from Virkaran Awasty which was spent for medical treatment of his father. He further received Rs 13.79 crore from Virkaran Awasty in his company Harin Ventures Limited, Dubai.

Assets identified so far of Chandrashekhar located in Bengaluru and Mumbai and movable assets in the form of balances in bank accounts totaling to Rs seven crore were attached by the ED in July last year.

Crime

Extortion case: Mumbai Police file charge-sheet against Param Bir, others

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The Mumbai Police on Saturday filed a voluminous charge-sheet against suspended DGP Param Bir Singh and three others in an extortion case lodged by a businessman before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’S Court, officials said here.

This is the first charge-sheet filed against Singh — a former Mumbai Police Commissioner, who was suspended on December 2 — in the five FIRs lodged against him in Mumbai and Thane.

The chargesheet, with evidences and the recorded statements of witnessses, also names sacked cop Sachin Vaze, currently in police custody, and two others in the extortion case filed by a hotelier, Bimal Agarwal.

The two other accused named are Alpesh Patel and Sumit Singh, who are currently out on bail, while the police are yet to file charges against two more accused, Vinay Singh and Riyaz Bhati.

Singh, the Maharashtra State Home Guards Commandant General, who was ‘untraceable’ for nearly six months till he resurfaced in Mumbai 10 days ago, had recorded his statement in the case, which was registered by the Goregaon Police on August 25 and later transferred to the Crime Branch.

As per Agarwal’s complaint, Singh, Vaze and the others allegedly threatened to file fake cases against him and extorted nearly Rs 12 lakh between January 2020 and March 2021. The Crime Branch is probing the case now.

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Crime

INX media case: Former director Peter Mukerjea gets regular bail

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A Delhi Court on Saturday granted regular bail to former media baron Peter Mukerjea, in connection with an alleged criminal conspiracy involving former Union Finance minister P. Chidambaram, his son Karti and others in relation to foreign direct investment to a firm, INX Media, in 2007.

The special CBI judge M.K. Nagpal granted the bail to Mukerjea, who was the erstwhile director and Chief Operating Officer of INX Media.

The bail application was argued by Adv Sandeep Kapur, Senior Partner, Karanjawala and Co and assisted by Adv Apoorva Pandey, Adv Ashneet Singh, Adv Mridul Yadav, and Adv GG Kashyap.

According to the case, excess Foreign Direct Investment was approved by INX Media (P) Ltd without the approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board which was allegedly scuttled by Karti Chidambaram by influencing public servants from various government departments by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and receiving huge kick-backs as consideration.

On November 27, the same special court had issued summons to Chidambarams and others in ED and CBI cases in connection with Aircel Maxis money-laundering and corruption cases, in which the CBI and the ED have alleged that as the former finance minister granted approval to the deal beyond his capacity, which benefited certain persons and he received kickbacks in return.

It is alleged that Chidambaram withheld Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance of the deal until his son, Karti Chidambaram received the five-per cent share in the company.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for probe agencies had earlier informed the court that agencies have sent Letters Rogatory — documents making a request through a foreign court to obtain information — to different countries and there are some developments on that.

According to rules and the foreign direct investment policy in force at that time, Chidambaram was allegedly empowered to give approval to proposals involving foreign investment only up to Rs 600 crore.

Special Judge M.K. Nagpal had noted that there was sufficient evidence to summon Chidambaram and the other accused in the corruption and money-laundering cases.

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Gujarat’s first Omicron case detected in Jamnagar

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 Gujarat on Saturday registered first Omicron case after a Zimbabwe resident, who arrived in Jamnagar, was found infected with Covid-19’s new mutant.

The Nodal officer for Corona, GG Hospital, Jamnagar, Dr S. Chatterjee told IANS: “Samples of the 72-year-old Zimbabwe resident sent to Biotechnological Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad tested positive for Omicron. The patient is in isolation since his admission. We had traced all his close contacts, screened them and they tested negative. But we will conduct the test of all his contacts once again.”

As he had returned from Zimbabwe, an African nation and one of the “at risk” countries identified by the authorities, his samples were sent to Ahmedabad for genome sequencing, which tested positive.

The man is believed to be a native of Jamnagar who has been living in Zimbabwe for many years.

He arrived on November 28 to meet his father-in-law. After he got a fever, his doctor advised him to get an RT-PCR test done. As mandated, the private laboratory informed the health authorities that his report was Covid-19 positive.

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