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ED searches former top PSU banker over money laundering

The agency's case is based on a CBI FIR against Bhargava, who was also Executive Director at Canara Bank, over disproportionate assets.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 27, 2021 7:50:28 am
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The Enforcement Directorate Friday carried out searches at two premises of former United Bank of India CMD Archana Bhargava in connection with an alleged money laundering case.

The agency’s case is based on a CBI FIR against Bhargava, who was also Executive Director at Canara Bank, over disproportionate assets.

“The searches were carried out by ED to trace the proceeds of crime and to unearth the documentary evidence showing acquisition, routing, layering and projection (as legitimate assets) of the said Proceeds of Crime amounting to Rs. 3.63 Crore, leading to commission of the offence of money-laundering. As a result of searches, ED has recovered certain incriminating documents and electronic evidences pertaining to aforesaid further reinforcing the case against Archana Bhargava,” the ED said in a statement.

In an FIR registered in February 2018, the CBI had alleged that as Executive Director of Canara Bank and as CMD of United Bank, Bhargava amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income between April 1, 2004 and Februray 20, 2014.

The agency also conducted searches at her residence and the office premises of Rank Mercantile Pvt. Ltd in Delhi, Noida and Mumbai. The agency claimed to have recovered “heavy cash”, gold and documents related to movable and immovable assets in her and her family’s name.

Bhargava, who joined Punjab National Bank as a management trainee in 1997, acquired these assets in the name of her husband Sunil and son Anshuman in the last 10 years of her career, CBI said.

She resigned from her post of CMD at United Bank on February 25, 2014 after the Reserve Bank of India initiated a probe against her and the bank over the piling up of bad loans in the last two quarters of 2013-14.

After conducting a forensic audit in November 2013, RBI in December restrained United Bank from advancing credit of more than Rs 10 crore to a single borrower and restructuring stressed assets.
The bank had reported a net loss of more than Rs 1,200 crore in the December quarter that year.

Following this, in September 2016, CBI registered a corruption case against Bhargava and two companies associated with her.

“It is pertinent to mention that Archana Bhargava is being investigated in another case also under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in respect of FIR booked by CBI against her in 2016. The said FIR pertains to use of Kolkata based shell companies to layer the proceeds of crime into the accounts of Rank Mercantile Private Limited (RMPL), a company owned by her husband and son,” ED said in a statement.

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