The city police, investigating the R400-crore Citibank fraud case, are now probing whether the prime accused, Shivraj Puri, had made huge investments in real estate in the UK apart from Gurgaon. The police had detected transactions to the tune of R50 crore with his father's forex firm Normans Martin. “We are investigating his UK links,” said an official.
According to sources, a special team of the police has been trying to track down real estate investments by Puri and his father in India and abroad. It is suspected that investments to the tune of R70-100 crore have been done in properties.
On January 12, the Gurgaon police had revealed in the court of additional sessions judge Subhash Goyal that Shivraj Puri had carried out transactions worth R50 crore with his father’s firm. The police officials suspect that either Puri had purchased a large tract of land in Gurgaon or an expensive property in the UK or did a similar deal through Raghuraj Puri. Raghuraj Puri, a co-accused in the Citibank scam, is yet to be arrested.
The police have frozen eight accounts of Normans Martin. The foreign exchange company has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities.
Normans Martin has a total of four current accounts in Citibank, out of which two are in Gurgaon branch and one each in Mumbai and Kolkata branches. Puri had opened a total of 18 accounts in the name of his relatives, including grandparents and mother. Eight of these belonged to Normans Martin.
According to foreign exchange experts, an individual could invest in the real estate abroad to the maximum of R50 lakh as per the RBI guidelines. However, in the case of Puri, he could have made use of all 18 accounts. The CA firm engaged by the police is trying to locate the investments.
Police officials said if Puri could give R20 crore as commission to Hero Corporate Services AVP Sanjay Gupta, Puri himself could have kept a large amount of investors’ money and parked the same in the real estate. The loss booked in the stock market could just be a pretext to mislead the investigation in the fraud, sources said. During interrogation, Puri had claimed that he had lost about R200 crore in the forward trading.
8 brokerage firm execs to face probe
The police have zeroed in on eight executives working in two different brokerage firms who had moved from a brokerage firm in 2008 and been in touch with Shivraj Puri.
Sources say, the police are looking at two possibilities. First, Puri had recklessly invested the money in the stock market and lost it in the due course.
Second, he is trying to mislead the police investigation as he had parked the money in real estate.
As per the first possibility, sources said, even if he had booked losses in the forward trading there was always a scope of nexus with brokerage firms.
The police officials are taking Puri’s version of losses in the stock market with a pinch of salt. They believe that no brokerage official worth his salt would advice a client to keep on investing in falling sensex and make losses.
Sources said the investigating teams have identified eight executives with half of them working with two separate brokerage companies with which Puri had conducted stock trading. This is a group of eight executives who had left a noted brokerage firm in 2008-end and joined another together. In 2009-end, they again left the new firm. While one group of four joined one firm, the other group joined another.