A Citibank executive has been booked for siphoning off more than Rs 100 crore of account holders’ money.
The executive, working in the bank’s Gurgaon branch, used a fake Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) letter to dupe customers into putting money into accounts he created in his relatives’ names. Some estimates say the swindle could be as high as R400 crore, though Citibank didn’t confirm this.
Police said Shivraj Puri used the fake SEBI letter to convince customers to part with their money with the promise of good returns. The investigation team has checked with SEBI, which denied issuing any such letter.
Puri is on the run and police have written to bank authorities to seize his account. Citibank said its customers won’t be affected. Usually, in such cases, the bank takes responsibility.
A Citibank spokesperson said the bank called the authorities after spotting suspicious transactions based on forged documents. “Identified suspicious transactions have been isolated and we are providing full assistance to the authorities in their investigation. This issue does not impact other accounts, transactions or customers of the bank,” the spokesperson said.
At least 30 investors had deposited money in the three fraud-linked accounts. The bank is still figuring out how much money has been lost.
"A relationship manager, Puri’s job was to open accounts for customers. He opened three in the name of Premnath, Sheila Premnath and Diskha Puri, all his relatives,” said Dalbir Singh, assistant commissioner of police, Gurgaon.
"The circular on a forged letterhead of SEBI stated that by depositing money in those three accounts, the Citibank account holders could get benefits, apart from a higher rate of interest,” Singh added.
Within months, crores of rupees poured in and Puri kept transferring them to another account, police said.
"There’s no count of how much was deposited in the accounts of Premnath, Sheila and Diksha but it could be well over R100 crore,” Singh said.
The Gurgaon police have also booked Puri’s relatives.