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Friday, July 03, 2020

CBI books Ratul Puri over ‘Rs 787-crore loan fraud’

Puri has been booked based on a complaint from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), which has alleged fraud of over Rs 787 crore by Moser Baer Solar Ltd (MBSL).

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: June 27, 2020 2:15:08 am
ratul puri, kamal nath nephew, augusta westland chopper deal, augusta westland chopper scam, vvip chopper deal, vvip chopper scam investigation, indian express Former MP CM Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri. (File photo)

Former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri, who has been facing probes by central agencies in connection with the AgustaWestland deal and alleged bank loan fraud, has now been booked by the CBI in a fresh case of loan fraud. Also among the various accused are his father Deepak Puri and mother Nita Puri.

A CBI team on Friday conducted searches at multiple premises associated with the Puri family, and their company Moser Baer Solar Ltd (MBSL).

Puri has been booked based on a complaint from Punjab National Bank which has alleged fraud of over Rs 787 crore by MBSL.

Last year, Puri had been booked and arrested in connection with the VVIP chopper scam case and Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India. He is currently out on bail.

Also Read: Beyond Agusta: ED claims Ratul Puri links with ‘other deals’ too

“It was alleged that the accused had cheated the Punjab National Bank-led consortium comprising PNB (lead bank), SBI, Exim Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India, Union Bank of India, and Bank of Baroda to the tune of Rs.787.25 crore (approx) by way of diversion of bank funds, sham transactions and inflated security deposits etc,” a CBI statement said.

CBI spokesperson RK Gaur said that the searches have been conducted at seven locations in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad and Annupur (Madhya Pradesh) at the premises of the accused including directors of MBSL and the company itself. He also said that searches led to “recovery of several incriminating documents and digital evidence.”

Apart from the Puri family, others accused in the case include– Deepak Khandelwal, Rajesh Khandelwal, Bernhard Hermann Gallus, Sunita Mowdgal and Sanjay Jain. All are Directors in MBSL.

Puri’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal refused to comment on the developments.

Puri had been booked last August for alleged loan fraud and subsequently first arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a dramatic fashion. Facing probe in the AgustaWestland case, Puri had been called for questioning by the ED in July last year. However, after arriving at the ED office, Puri excused himself to visit the toilet and never returned. He then appeared in court seeking anticipatory bail.

While the hearings were on, ED had sent a reference on a Central Bank of India loan fraud to CBI and a case was registered. Based on this, ED registered a money laundering case and arrested Puri even as his bail hearing in the AgustaWestland case was pending. He was later arrested again in the AgustaWestland case.

According to the CBI’s latest FIR, between 2007 and 2013, MBSL availed of loans to the tune of over Rs 950 crore both for funding a power project and as working capital from different banks in the consortium. However, as the loans became stressed, a restructuring exercise was launched. MBSL, however, did not agree to the terms and conditions of the debt restructuring in 2016 and accordingly the loans were declared NPAs.

A forensic audit was then got conducted by the banks through Haribhakti and Co. LLP which submitted its report in June 2019. The audit had found that in violation of RBI rules, MBSL had opened accounts outside of consortium banks and diverted revenue there.

MBSL also invested Rs 696 crore in loss-making group company Helios Photovoltaic Ltd (HPVL). Ratul’s parents are directors in the company. At the time of the investment, the total asset value of the company was just Rs 455 crore indicating there were no chances of recovery, the FIR has said.

Irregularities were also found in supplier advance and sale/purchase made by MBSL. The audit report found that 44% of all purchases made by MBSL were from HPVL. “79.6% of such purchase from HPVL were of material that had also been sold to HPVL. …86.58% of sales (from MBSL) to HPVL were of material also purchased from SPVL.”

Verification of sale/purchase accounts showed they were not backed by adequate evidence. “Thus from the above its is crystal clear that all the above transactions were sham transactions,” the FIR has said.

The audit found that MBSL had also made an interest-free security deposit of Rs 135 crore to Moser Baer Indian Ltd for lease rent agreement. This was found to be “58.82 times higher than an agreed annual rental.”

The PNB complaint has also alleged that the “primary security of the lenders in the form of stock of finished goods, semi-finished goods and raw material have also been fraudulently removed by MBSL and its directors in order to prevent their distribution among creditor banks to satisfy their debts.”

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