CBI books Ludhiana firm linked to Canada-based company named in Panama Paper leaks
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a case against a Ludhiana based company - SEL Textiles Ltd for cheating a consortium of 10 banks led by Central Bank of India of Rs 1,530 crore between 2009 and 2013 and using a Canada-based company - Aarti Impex - named in Panama Papers leaks for diversion of funds, officials familiar with development said Monday.
The CBI has named the promoters of SEL Textiles - Ram Saran Saluja, Neeraj Saluja, Dhiraj Saluja for diverting the banks’ funds using several companies abroad.
Aarti Impex is not named as accused in CBI FIR, reviewed by HT, but it is listed as one of the exporters to SEL Textiles which was used for diverting the money by latter to siphon the funds out of India and there were no genuine business transactions.
The company was named in Panama Papers leaks among 500 Indians - individuals and entities - who paid the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore entities in tax havens around the world.
Aarti Impex, an exporter of textile products, is a company based in Canada and has branch offices in Bolivia and Columbia and represent textile spinners from India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, China etc.
“The amount received by SEL from the above company (Aarti Impex) kept on increasing since 2010,” states the CBI FIR quoting the bank’s complaint. “The credit period has shown continuous increase since 2010 giving signals of possible risks to realisation. Upon searching the company on internet, there was a link to Panama Paper leaks, wherein, the director is stated to be Sandeep Gupta, and company is registered in Panama Islands,” it adds.
An email sent to Aarti Impex by HT remained unanswered till filing of this report.
According to the CBI FIR several Dubai- based companies have also been used by SEL for diversion of banks’ money.
According to CBI officials, Dhiraj Saluja is said to be out of India and a look out circular (LoC) will be issued against him.
Apart from Central Bank, which has an exposure of Rs 371 crore on SEL Textiles; other banks which have been cheated include - Allahabad Bank (Rs 429 crore), Punjab National Bank (Rs 176 crore), Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 120 crore), Bank of Maharashtra (Rs 92 crore), Punjab & Sind Bank (Rs 52 crore), Corporation Bank (Rs 115 crore), Union Bank of India (Rs 46 crore), UCO Bank (Rs 101 crore) and United Bank of India (Rs 24 crore).
It is alleged that the company diverted funds for acquiring unproductive assets, creating additional chain of intermediary for capital goods purchases through capital advances and investments which are considered beyond the capacity of the company to support looking to its own weak financials, according to CBI FIR.
The bank said in its complaint that Dhiraj Saluja is abroad as he used to handle overseas business of SEL, while asking CBI to investigate as the case has inter-state and international ramifications.