Bank of Baroda Forex scam: CBI conducts raids, questions suspects
New Delhi: CBI teams Sunday swooped down at 50 locations in Delhi in connection with its probe into alleged spurious transactions of Rs 6,000 crore to Hong Kong from a Bank of Baroda branch in the garb of purported payments of "non-existent" imports.
CBI sources said agency has found that Ashok Vihar branch of the bank was a relatively new one which has got the permission to entertain forex transactions only in 2013.
They said that Rs 6,000 crore were transferred through nearly 8,000 transactions done between July, 2014 and July, 2015.
Giving details of the case, CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said here today it was alleged that the amount remitted in each transaction would be kept at less than USD one lakh.
"All the remittances were made to Hong Kong. The amount was remitted as advance for import and in most of the cases, the beneficiary was the same," the spokesperson said.
Most of the foreign exchange-related transactions were carried out in newly opened current accounts wherein heavy cash receipts were observed but the branch did not generate Exceptional Transaction Report (ETR) and did not monitor the high value transactions, she said.
The sources said these remittances were sent by splitting them into amounts below one lakh USD to avoid automatic detection by software used by banks to alert them about such transactions.
They said in taxation language the technique is known as smurfing and holders were able to skip the scrutiny of such transactions.
The sources said most of the 59 accused have been identified by the agency which today carried out searches at 50 locations in a massive operation involving about 200 officers.
"It was revealed that most of the addresses given by the companies / firms were either false or the companies / firms did not exist at the said addresses. Most of the accused persons allegedly involved in perpetration of the said crime have been identified and their interrogation is underway," she said.
CBI is tight-lipped about accused and beneficiary in the case claiming that probe which is in a delicate state is not jeopardised.
CBI has registered a case under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) of IPC and Section 13(2) read with13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against 59 current account holders and unknown bank officials and private persons on a complaint from Bank of Baroda.
The FIR alleged that "59 current account holders and
unknown bank officials conspired to send overseas remittances, mostly to Hong Kong, of Foreign Exchange worth approximately Rs 6,000 crores in illegal and irregular manner in violation of established banking norms under the garb of payments towards suspected non-existent imports."
The Enforcement Directorate has also registered a case and carried out searches in this connection. Yesterday, Congress had demanded an inquiry in to the matter.
"It was strange that the money was sent to buy cashew, pulses and rice from Hong Kong," Congress spokesperson RPN Singh had said.
The bank which had carried out an internal probe, after audit red flagged nearly 8000 transactions done from Ashok Vihar branch of the Bank, found that there was failure on their part to report these suspicious transactions, they said.
They said the account holders who were allegedly sending these payments to Hong Kong had claimed that these were advances for imports of cashew, rice etc whereas no such imports ever took place.
First Published: Sunday, October 11, 2015 - 14:18
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