Firms used for money laundering

Both the ED and the I-T department had formed special teams to investigate the case, sources said.

New Delhi: Around 200 shell firms and benami assets are now under the scanner of Central investigative agencies probing the Rs 11,400-crore alleged fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB).

It is suspected that the shell firms were being used by the accused to launder money and create “benami” assets in the form of land, gold and precious stones, that are now being probed by the tax department.

Both the ED and the I-T department had formed special teams to investigate the case, sources said. The ED has seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones wo-rth Rs 5,674 crores till now.

The I-T department on Saturday attached nine bank accounts of Gitanjali Gems, its promoter Mehul Choksi and others over a tax evasion probe against them. It also attached 29 properties and 105 bank accounts of Modi, his family members and firms owned by them.

CBI officials said it was continuing the questioning of arrested bank officials - Gokulnath Shetty (retired) and Manoj Kharat - and a Nirav Modi company signatory - besides other PNB officials to track the money trail and trace the depth of the alleged scam, spread across thousand of documents and digital records.

They said it was also analysing records recovered from a huge server seized during the searches after registration of the FIR against Mehul Choksi. When asked about the possible quid pro quo involved in the alleged scam, done in collusion with billionaire diamond merchants Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi and Punjab National Bank officials, they said they were still looking into it and it can’t be clearly determined if there were any regular payments or not.

The CBI on Friday registered the second FIR in the PNB scam. Three companies of Mehul Choksi were named in this FIR, including Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand Ltd. Mehul Choksi has also been mentioned as an accused. The accused in the new FIR include Choksi (managing director, Gitanjali Gems), Gokulnath Shetty (retired DGM, PNB, etc.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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