It was business as usual for the over 4,000 employees of Worldwide Oilfield Machines, despite the fact that the company’s owner and a senior manager were named in an FIR filed by the CBI for their alleged role in the biggest seizure of new currency notes in Pune. Employees of the company were going about their work, even as some passers-by on the Pune Satara Road stopped and stared at the gate.
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Since November 8, as most people grappled with acute cash shortage, reports about large amounts of new currency notes being seized from various parts of the country started grabbing headlines.
Last week, Income Tax officers had conducted raids on Bank of Maharashtra’s Parvati branch and opened 15 lockers owned by the Worldwide Oilfield Machines. The I-T department seized Rs 10 crore from the lockers, of which Rs 8 crore was in new currency notes.
The CBI, in its FIR, has named Sudhir Puranik, owner of Worldwide Oilfield Machines, Mangesh A Chattre, chief financial officer, and Satten Gathani, the owner of Ishanya Hyundai, as well as unidentified bank officers for their alleged role in the offence.
The lockers had come under the scanner of the I-T department due to the frequency of their operations. The production unit of the company, located in the village of Velu in Bhor taluka of Pune district, is spread across almost 10 acres of land on the Pune-Bangalore Highway. It deals with the manufacturing of valves for the oil and gas industry, operates in three shifts and employs over 4,000 workers, who hail from Pune, Shirwal and Shirur, among other places.
When Pune Newsline visited the company on Wednesday, the security personnel refused to allow the correspondent to enter the premises. On whether anyone in the top management, including Puranik, was available for comment, the security guards replied in the negative. “The management does not operate from here and we do not know about their whereabouts,” they said.
However, work was going on inside the premises, as trucks and multi-axle trailers with Gujarat registration numbers ferried valves to the company. Many of the employees, on condition of anonymity, said they were shocked at the news of the cash seizure.
The Pune facility has been operational since 1989 and houses two subsidiaries of the company. According to the website of the company, this facility is the “backbone” of the company’s production line.
Mangesh Sarode, who runs a small sweetmeat shop near the company, said, “Employees who visit my shop during their breaks discuss the matter. However, the production line of the company has not slowed down”.