New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Kumar Verma, who was unceremoniously removed from the post may have to face disciplinary action and even lose his retirement benefits for allegedly "misusing his position" as the central agency director and violating rules during his service, sources said on Wednesday.
A DoPT source related to the development told IANS: "A file recommending disciplinary action against Verma has been received from Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and has been sent to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for further action."
The Union Home Ministry (MHA) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked the UPSC to take action against Verma, who was at the epicentre of a controversy in 2018, when Rakesh Asthana, the then special director of the probe agency had levelled allegations of corruption against him.
The source said that the file for disciplinary action was received two to three days back.
Explaining the action, the source said that Verma may lose his retirement benefits as per the rules.
The source said that the government has also cited that Verma, a 1979 batch IPS officer 'violated government rules' during his service.
Verma, as the CBI Director indulged in bitter feud with the agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana and traded charges of corruption against each other. Asthana has been appointed as the Delhi Police Commissioner in July.
Following the open fued between the top two officers of the CBI, the government moved them out of the country's top premiere investigative agency on October 23, 2018 on the recommendations of the CVC.
Verma's name had recently also figured in the Pegasus 'snoop list'.
The midnight coup in the CBI came barely two days after Verma ordered the filing of a criminal case against Asthana, then special director in the Bureau, accusing him of corruption.
The Supreme Court, however, reinstated him to the same post on January 9, 2019. However, two days later a high powered committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with its other two members Justice A.K. Sikri and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, ousted him as the CBI Director in a 2-1 vote on January 11, 2019.
Asthana, however, got a clean chit from the CBI in February 2020. Recently, he was given an extension for a year and also appointed as Commissioner of Delhi Police.
Verma had earlier requested for the consideration of his retirement after attaining the age of superannuation on July 31, 2017. He had also crossed superannuation age for DG - Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards.
IANS tried to get the comments of Verma. However, by the time of filing this report he did not respond to repeated calls and messages.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)
Bengaluru, Aug 3 (IANS) In a major setback to former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, the Karnataka High Court on Monday issued notice to him in connection with alleged corruption in a housing project.
A single judge bench of Justice S. Sunil Dutt Yadav also issued notice to Yediyurappa's son and BJP state Vice President B.Y. Vijayendra, former minister S.T. Somashekar, and others in connection with the case.
Activist T.J. Abraham had approached the high court seeking inquiry, after a special court dismissed the case for want of sanction to prosecute as Yediyurappa held the Chief Minister's post and Somashekar was a minister.
The allegations included receiving kickbacks from a contractor in a housing project launched by the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA).
The development comes even as Yediyurappa is trying hard to get cabinet berths for Vijayendra and his followers.
New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) The government on Monday told Parliament that some Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Rs 685 crore fertilisers import scam but declined to share their names as it "may impact" the ongoing probe.
Replying to a question from Congress Lok Sabha member Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said that the ED is probing the money laundering scam involving IFFCO Managing Director U.S. Awasthi, based on the FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
On the involvement of the NRIs and foreign companies in the case, the minister said: "Some of the persons are NRIs. Disclosures of further details of the case may not be in the larger public interest as the same may impact the ongoing investigation in the case."
In its FIR filed in May, the CBI has named Awasthi, Indian Potash Ltd Managing Director Pravinder Singh Gahlaut, Awasthi's sons and Catalyst Business Associates Pvt Ltd promoters Amol Awasthi and Anupam Awasthi, Gahlaut's son Vivek Gahlaut, Pankaj Jain of Jyoti Group of Companies and Rare Earth Group, Dubai, and his brother and Jyoti Trading Corporation President Sanjay Jain, and Jyoti Trading Corporation's Senior Vice President Amrinder Dhari Singh.
Besides them, it has also named chartered accountant and Midas Metal International LLC and other companies promoter Rajiv Saxena, Pankaj Jain's employee Sushil Kumar Pachisia, and unknown directors of IFFCO and unknown others.
According to the CBI FIR, IFFCO and IPL were importing huge quantities of fertilisers, running into several thousands of metric tons, along with raw materials for fertilisers from various foreign suppliers, for the country's farmers, and the government was providing subsidy on them to facilitate supply to the farmers at reasonable rates.
However, it was alleged that in order to cheat the government by claiming higher subsidies, some IFFCO and IPL officials were importing the fertilisers and raw materials through Kisan International Trading FZE in Dubai, a subsidiary of IFFCO, and other middlemen, at highly inflated rates, covering the commission meant for the accused, including the MDs of IFFCO and IPL, which was paid or transferred by the overseas suppliers to the accused officials through sham transactions involving the accused.
All these imports were done between 2013 and 2017, it said.
The ED has arrested Rashtriya Janata Dal Rajya Sabha member A.D. Singh and Delhi-based CA Alok Kumar Agarwal in connection with the case.
New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) Raj Singh Gehlot, Chairman of the Ambience Group of Companies who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), siphoned off a loan amount by diverting the funds for other purposes, such as to settle the loans of other group firms, making Fixed Deposits, as well as diversion of materials to other projects of the Ambience Group.
The ED probe also found that he had diverted Rs 469 crore to entities and individuals, controlled by him and for which he is the authorised signatory.
Gehlot was arrested by the ED on late Wednesday and produced before a PMLA court via video conferencing.
He was sent to ED custody by the court for seven days.
An ED official related to the probe said that during the money laundering probe it was found that Gehlot entered into a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently siphon off the loan amount by diverting the funds for other purposes.
"An amount of Rs 469 crore was found to be diverted to entities and individuals, controlled by Gehlot and for which he is the authorised signatory," he said.A
The official said that during the course of the investigation, Gehlot had misled the ED and continuously tried to show that he did not make any diversion of the sanctioned loans.
"Whereas the documentary evidence collected during the search revealed that the submissions made by Gehlot were false and misleading," he said.
The ED had registered a money laundering case on the basis of an FIR filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Jammu and Kashmir Police, against officers of the J&K Bank and others in respect of loan sanctioned to Aman Hospitality Pvt Ltd (AHPL).
The ED said that AHPL had taken a loan amount of Rs 810 crore from a consortium of banks led by J&K Bank.
The ED official further said that the loan was sanctioned for the purpose of construction and development of a five-star hotel at CBD, Shahdara in New Delhi.
The loan amount along with interest totaling to the tune of Rs 902 crore has been declared as NPA, he added.
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is all set to launch a probe into the alleged financial dealings of Raj Kundra, the businessman husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, who has been arrested by the Mumbai police as the prime accused in a pornographic films racket case.
According to senior ED officials familiar with the development, the financial probe agency has sought a copy of the FIR from the Mumbai Crime Branch. Interestingly, sources reveal that Kundra was an agent for laundering big money from many Mumbai-based business houses and HNI through his India UK network. A very prominent business house with global businesses has sued Kundra for the dirty work.
An official of the ED said that the agency has also sought the details of the banking transactions of Kundra related to Hotshots and BollyFame.
The official said that before filing a case, the ED will also check financial transactions in other countries into the bank accounts of Kundra. Earlier in the day, Kundra was sent to judicial custody till August 10 by a Mumbai court.
In a major swoop, the Mumbai Police arrested Kundra on July 19 for his alleged role in a sensational case of producing and distributing pornographic content through mobile applications. Soon after his arrest, Kundra was remanded to police custody till July 23, which was extended till July 27.
The police also raided Kundra's home in Juhu last Friday and recorded the statement of Shilpa Shetty, besides summoning others. The pornography case first surfaced in February this year.
Kundra has been charged with offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, IT Act and Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.
New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Indian fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case has returned to Antigua and Barbuda from Dominica, two days after being granted bail on medical grounds.
Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal told IANS: "My client Choksi has returned to his home in Antigua safely. He faced no issues while entering back in Antigua."
Aggarwal said that Choksi is receiving medical treatment and his family is feeling relieved however torture during kidnapping has him caused lot of psychological and physical harm.
"All well that ends well. After tasting success in Dominica now the legal team is gearing up for long drawn fight in Antigua," Aggarwal added.
Choksi was granted bail on medical grounds on Monday by Dominica High Court.
The court has asked Choksi to deposit Eastern Caribbean dollars 10,000 (around Rs 2.75 lakh) as surety for the bail.
His legal team approached the Dominica high court last week seeking relief on the ground that his health was deteriorating and he needed urgent medical attention.
The latest court order comes as a setback for Indian agencies that had moved the court in Dominica to get Choksi repatriated to India.
Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, told IANS, "Yes, Choksi has been granted bail on medical grounds."
He said, "Dominica courts finally upheld the rule of law and rights of a human to be treated in the medical facilities of his choice. And all attempts by various agencies did not bear fruits. There is solace in saying that all clever foxes end up as fur coats."
His legal team approached the Dominica high court last week seeking relief on the ground that his health was deteriorating and he needed urgent medical attention.
Justice Abroad's Director and London-based international barrister Michael Polak is acting for Choksi as part of his legal team said, "The High Court of Dominica granted Choksi bail so that he can return to Antigua for medical treatment and adjourned his judicial review application and the criminal proceedings against him for unlawful entry."
He said that Choksi is suffering from a number of ailments including cerebrovascular disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and blood dyscrasias. He is also suffering from a subdural haematoma, the collection of blood between the skull and the surface of the brain.
"Dominican doctors expressed concern that Choksi's current health problems are serious and reported that he is in need of the urgent medical assistance of a Neurologist and Neurosurgical Consultant and that this care is not available in Dominica," Polak said.
Polak said, "We are very pleased that the Dominican Court has made the principled and humanitarian decision to release Mr Choksi so that he can access specialist medical care in Antigua."
He stated that Choksi has been through a very difficult few weeks and has been subject to an ordeal that has had a detrimental effect on him physically. "It is the right outcome that he be able to return to Antigua, where he can access the medical attention that he requires and be with his family," he added.
Choksi's bail plea was supposed to be heard on July 23 but was heard on July 12 on medical grounds. His lawyers had moved the court pleading that he was suffering from a neurological disorder for which he needed treatment in Antigua.
The bail order comes amid allegations from Choksi's family and lawyers that the jeweller was abducted from Jolly Harbour area of Antigua by agents of Indian agencies and forcibly taken to Dominica on May 23. Choksi is facing a case of extradition in Antigua on India's request.
Choksi had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, sparking a massive manhunt. He was later captured in Dominica where he faced charges of entering the country illegally.
Choksi had filed a case in the high court of Dominica, seeking to quash the proceedings against him alleging that his arrest was "dictated" by representatives of the Indian government. The case was filed against the Immigration Minister of the Caribbean nation, its police chief and the investigating officer of the case.
Choksi pleaded that the decision to charge him for illegal entry violated the law and, accordingly, was null and void. Choksi's lawyer had alleged that their client was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Dominica. Choksi is wanted in India by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
Hyderabad, July 9 (IANS) The Income Tax Department's searches at properties owned by Andhra Pradesh MP Alla Ayodhya Ramireddy's family-owned Ramky Group in Hyderabad three days ago have revealed a Rs 1,200 crore artificial loss.
The raids conducted on July 6 also led to the detection of unaccounted income of Rs 300 crore, the Income Tax Department said on Friday.
Ayodhya Ramireddy is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh's ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and is considered close to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The income tax sleuths had conducted searches at various properties owned by the MP and his family-owned Ramky Group after they had shown huge losses.
The searches revealed that they had incorrectly claimed bad debts to the tune of Rs 288 crore on account of related party transactions, which was set off against the profits earned.
The department said the entities and their associates have admitted to having an unaccounted income of Rs 300 crore and have also agreed to pay the tax on it.
The search operation led to the detection of artificial loss of approximately Rs 1,200 crore, which is said to be taxed in the hands of the respective assesses, the department said.
"Further, during the course of the search, it was found that the assessees had incorrectly claimed bad debts to the tune of Rs 288 crore on account of related party transactions, which was set off against the aforementioned profits earned. During search proceedings, incriminating documents relating to this artificial/incorrect claim were found. Unaccounted cash transactions with the associated of the group have also been detected during the search and the quantum and modus of the same is under examination," it said.
"As a result of the search & seizure operation, and on the basis of various incriminating documents found, the entities and associated have admitted to having an unaccounted income of Rs 300 crore and have also agreed to pay due to taxes," it added.
The officials seized many incriminating documents, including several loose sheets indicating the involvement of the group in unaccounted transactions.
It was also found that the group had sold its majority stake to a non-resident entity based in Singapore during 2018-19 and had earned huge capital gains.
The group subsequently devised various schemes by entering into a series of share purchase, sale, non-arm's length valued subscription and subsequent bonus issuance etc with related parties, creating a loss which was set off against the capital gains earned. Incriminating evidence/documents have been recovered, which indicates that the loss was artificially created to set off the respective capital gains.
The department said further investigations were in progress.
Ramky Group is engaged in real estate, construction, waste management, and infrastructure. The activities of waste management are spread across India while real estate activities are mainly concentrated in Hyderabad.
The group had earlier figured in the investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into disproportionate assets case against Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The Enforcement Directorate had, in 2013, seized its assets based on the charge sheet filed by the CBI. The Ramky Group was accused of investing in Jagan Mohan Reddy-owned Jagati Publications in the form of buying shares at 35 times premium on an alleged quid-pro-quo basis.
According to the charge sheet, Jagan Mohan Reddy had prevailed upon his father and then undivided Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to reduce the green belt area of Ramky Pharmacity at Parwada in Visakhapatnam in violation of layout norms.
Mumbai July 5 (IANS) While moving the Supreme Court for protection against coercive action by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the embattled ex-Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh skipped an ED summons for the third time in a week, this time, accusing the central agency that its probe against him was 'not transparent', here on Monday.
In a letter ot ED Mumbai Assistant Director Tassine Sultan, Deshmukh said that he had devoted his entire life to public service and would not hesitate to render any assistance that may be required in the conduct of the ongoing investigations.
"However, a series of events have given rise to a bonafide apprehension in my mind that neither the procedure of law is being followed nor any objective, impartial or transparent investigations are being carried out," the 72-year-old senior Nationalist Congress Party leader said in his 8-pager missive.
Deshmukh said that he has moved a petition in the Supreme Court which would be listed in a few days and the ED to wait until its outcome in the apex court.
"I am sanguine that your good self will in fact dispel the impression of any bias or prejudice that has accumulated in my mind by carrying out investigations in a more transparent and objective manner. I am only taking recourse to my legal remedies in view of the peculiarities of the circumstances," he said.
This is the third time in barely a week that Deshmukh -- who was raided by the ED on June 25, and at least 2 of his close aides were arrested -- has spurned the ED summons to join the probe.
While Deshmukh was summoned today, his son Hrishikesh has been summoned on Tuesday, July 6 for the probe into the alleged money-laundering charges after a complaint by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, after he was transferred from the post.
Among other things, Singh -- now the Commandant-General of Home Guards -- made the sensational claims that the ex-minister had allegedly given a target of Rs.100-crore per month collection to the now-dismissed Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze.
New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday said that it has arrested Kewal Krishan Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Shakti Bhog Foods Limited in connection with a money laundering case after searches at nine locations in Delhi and Haryana.
An ED official said that the financial probe agency arrested Kumar from Delhi on Sunday under the sections of the Prevention of Money-laundering Act.
Searches were carried out at nine premises located in Delhi and Haryana.
The official said that during searches various incriminating documents and digital evidence have been recovered.
The ED has registered a money laundering case on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI against Kumar and unknown others, for criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.
The ED said that the allegations against Kumar include diversion of funds from loan accounts by round tripping of funds through related entities and siphoning of funds was being done by way of suspicious sale or purchase from various entities.
The official said that after his arrest, Kumar was produced before the Special Court on Sunday which sent him to ED custody till July 9.
The official said that the Court noted that in the considered opinion, the court remand of Kumar was necessary and justified for fair and complete investigation of the matter.
Over the past seven years, corporate India has seen more fraud than in the past 70 years. After the excesses post the GFC where credit was loose and corporate India ambitions ran faster than their business acumen it took years to absorb the fall-out from defaults, NPLs and recovery proceedings.
However, the rise in corporate fraud was somewhat perplexing as it was disappointing. Since the IBC was implemented, many such discoveries unearthed as independent resolution professionals take charge of the company's affairs. Additionally, banks and financial institutions have no incentive to compromise or gloss over transgressions, which in the era before the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, would have either gone undiscovered or covertly allowed to exist without acknowledgement of its existence.
Promoters have an unquestionable grip on their companies, lenders and minority shareholders. Even professional employees get the wrong end of that stick. It also depends on how one defines management conduct. Frauds and misdeeds at financial institutions (such as banks and NBFCs) have tremendous ramifications given the inherent leveraging of driven business models. The demise of Yes Bank, Religare, Laxmi Vilas Bank, IL&FS and DHFL all have been mired with fraud, corruption and siphoning -- showing that the misconduct of whether promoters or professionals have been laid bare.
In contrast, there are the likes of BR Shetty (promoter of NMR Health and Finbar) blaming their professional management for the intricate fraud in their company. Avantha Group (led by promoter Gautam Thapar) received similar blame with the promoter claiming ignorance, delaying the resolution process. Meanwhile, the case of Cox and Kings is more like a thriller movie than a corporate process where the promoter (Peter Kerkar) claims he was duped by collusion between his management, banks and investors. It's hard to believe that promoters helmed affairs for over two decades in each of these companies and yet don't know what the company's true affairs look like.
Anyone who's interacted with senior management in promoter-owned Indian companies (including the likes of SEBI and RBI) can tell you that the finances of every Indian company are controlled by the promoter's family with an irongrip. That's one reason bankers in India always want the personal guarantee of promoters because they are implicitly acknowledging that promoters treat the companies as their own wealth, so transferring between the promoter's wealth and company assets cannot be prevented.
Hence, bankers should be able to go after the promoter's assets if the company's assets are insufficient for debt repayments. Undoubtedly, promoters have the power, authority, ability and opportunity to know if there were rogue employees or if this is a crafty scheme to benefit from perceptions of high performance and stock prices as well as deflecting risk on the way down.
The list of corporate frauds keeps growing, showing corporate India's underbelly. While there's hope of startups achieving 'unicor' status, there's also a grave reminder that corporate India has many dark corners that must be cleansed. Measures must be implemented to deter such behaviour -- whether by promoters or professionals. Only when such bad behaviour dissipates that banks can resume lending to corporates and have minority investors investing again -- regaining the trust within corporate India.
Data reported by RBI paints a grim picture of public money lost in India's corporate fraud. It's shocking to see that in the past ten years, reported fraud has gone up by nearly 100 times, increasing from Rs 2,000 crore in FY 2010 to Rs 1,85,000 crore in FY 2020! Interestingly, this declined to Rs 138,422 crore in FY2021, although the absolute number remains uncomfortably elevated. The reporting by private sector banks increased in FY21 versus FY20 (+35%) while that of PSU banks declined (-45%) -- perhaps reminding us that the fraud is pervasive, not only by hiding in PSU banks but also finding its way into well-managed private sector banks. One would suspect this jump could also be due to the reporting at Yes Bank.
Year of Reporting Amount of Fraud (INR Cr)
2008-09 -- 1,683
2009-10 -- 1,997
2010-11 -- 3,882
2011-12 -- 4,497
2012-13 -- 8,665
2013-14 -- 10,093
2014-15 -- 19,456
2015-16 -- 18,698
2016-17 -- 23,928
2017-18 -- 41,167
2018-19 -- 71,543
2019-20 -- 185,644
2020-21 -- 138,422
Some of the large names underlying this fraud include Bhushan Power and Steel (Rs 4,000 crore), Cox and Kings (over Rs 6,000 crore), Religare Group (over Rs 3,600 crore), Dewan Housing (over Rs 6,000 crore), CG Power (Rs 3,000 crore).
New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) In a big setback to late Congress leader Ahmed Patel's son-in-law Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui and Bollywood actor Dino Morea, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Friday that it has attached their properties in connection with the Sandesara Group bank fraud case.
An ED official said that the financial probe agency on Friday attached eight immovable properties, three vehicles, and several bank accounts/shares/mutual funds having a total value of Rs 8.79 crore belonging to four persons under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the Sandesara Group case.
The official said that the agency attached properties to the tune of Rs 1.4 crore belonging to Morea, besides attaching properties worth Rs 2.41 crore in the name of Siddiqui.
Besides these two, the agency also attached properties worth Rs 3 crore belonging to one Sanjay Khan, and properties worth Rs 1.98 crore in the name of one Aqeel Abdulkhalil Bachooali. The ED had registered a case of money laundering on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI against several entities for cheating various public sector banks.
The official said that during the probe, it was revealed that the Sandesaras had diverted the proceeds of crime of Rs 3 crore, Rs 1.4 crore, Rs 12.54 crore and Rs 3.51 crore to Sanjay Khan, Dino Morea, Aqeel Bachooali and Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui, respectively.
Earlier, the ED had attached properties to the tune of Rs 14,513 crore in connection with the case. "With the latest additions, the total attachments, in this case, have reached Rs 14,521.80 crore. The total proceeds of crime, in this case, is more than Rs 16,000 crore," the official said.
The ED has also filed a charge sheet along with four supplementary charge sheets in connection with the case and has arrested four persons so far. The official said that Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Hitesh Patel have been declared fugitives by a special court.