New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has made a fresh arrest in an alleged Rs 354 crore bank fraud linked money laundering case involving Ratul Puri, the businessman nephew of senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, and others, official sources said on Wednesday.
Nitin Bhatnagar, a former relationship manager of the Bank of Singapore, was taken into custody under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Tuesday.
He was produced before a local court by the agency that sent him to ED custody till August 31.
The money laundering case stems from a August, 2019 FIR of the CBI where it was alleged that the company Moser Baer India Ltd. (MBIL) and its promoters allegedly cheated and defrauded the loan taken from the Central Bank of India to the tune of Rs 354.51 crore. The case was registered after the bank sent a complaint to the CBI.
Case for cheating, forgery, etc.
Both the CBI and the ED had booked Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Kamal Nath's sister). Ratul Puri was arrested by the ED in this case in 2019 and he is now out on bail.
The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI and the ED for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption. Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as the then executive director of MBIL, a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri.
The company was involved in the manufacture of optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.
Ratul had resigned from the post of executive director in 2012, while his parents continue to be on the board, the bank had said in a statement and complaint to the CBI.
The company (Moser Baer) was taking loans from various banks since 2009 and went for debt restructuring a number of times, the bank has alleged in the complaint.
When it was unable to pay the debt, a forensic audit was done and the the account was declared as "fraud" by the Central Bank of India on April 20, 2019, it has alleged.
Bhatnagar, the ED told the court, "facilitated" opening of a bank account for a company called Pristine River Investments Ltd. in the Bank of Singapore, as he was its relationship manager.
The company was owned by Savannah Trust of which Ratul Puri was the "settler", the ED said.
ED, CBI, IT all behind Puri
It alleged that the company (Pristine River) was used for layering "proceeds of crime" and Bhatnagar "knowingly assisted in doing do for the main accused Ratul Puri." It claimed Bhatnagar was "instrumental" in doing certain other acts which do have a bearing in connection with the present case.
Ratul Puri is facing investigation by three main central probe agencies, ED, CBI and the Income-Tax department.
Nath has denied any wrongdoing in these cases.