The chairman of the Pen Cooperative Bank, Shishir Dharkar, and his wife were among the six people arrested on Thursday in connection with a Rs 480-crore gold export fraud.
The anti-corruption branch (ACB) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had last month, unearthed the scam in which some exporters took an advance from MSTC Limited, a government of India enterprise for export of gold, but allegedly usurped the amount.
The exporters deposited the amount in the Pen Urban Cooperative Bank and later used some of it to buy property in and around Pen, the CBI has alleged.
Apart from Dharkar’s wife, Gulraihna Oomer, a Bahrain national, the others arrested are the bank’s director, Prem Kumar Sharma, Jayesh Desai, director of Joshi Bullion Gems and Jewellery Private Limited, Rahis Ahmed, partner in Strategic Consultancy, and R Mani, proprietor of Great Aid.
The CBI has named Joshi as the main conspirator. Sharma, Ahmed and Mani allegedly acted as agents between the exporters and MSTC. The special judge for CBI cases on Friday remanded the accused into CBI custody until December 6. The CBI has also registered a case against unknown officers of MSTC, which falls under ministry of steel and is a nominated agency for gold exports under the foreign trade policy. The CBI has alleged that six export companies, located in the western suburbs, had approached MSTC in 2008-2009 saying they want to export gold worth Rs 600 crore to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and sought 80% advance.
According to the rules, the companies first organised Rs 600 crore and exported gold after which they got Rs 480 crore (80%) as advance from MSTC. This sum was transferred to the companies’ nominated bank accounts. The advance was given on the condition that the companies return it within 170 days with a commission of 1% of the total export amount of Rs 600 crore which stood at Rs 6 crore.
The companies allegedly did not return the amount to MSTC. The MSTC did not file a complaint and the CBI, on its own, registered a case of cheating and forgery against 11 people and unknown officers of MSTC.
The CBI’s case said on getting the advance from MSTC, the companies should have exported gold to only those companies in the UAE that were listed with MSTC. The companies instead exported gold to six other companies, which the CBI later found were owned by the same people. They then sold the gold in the open market in the UAE. The amount of Rs 600 crore was transferred back to India through illegal money transfer channels.