Government

ED Arrests Kamal Nath's Nephew Ratul Puri in Rs 354-Crore Bank Fraud Case

The Enforcement Directorate said that the businessman was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath’s businessman nephew, Ratul Puri, has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a fresh case of money laundering linked to an alleged Rs 354 crore bank loan fraud case, officials said Tuesday.

Ratul Puri was placed under arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) late Monday night after he appeared before the central probe agency here after it slapped a fresh criminal case against him and others, taking cognisance of a CBI FIR filed last week.

It is understood that the agency wants to undertake custodial interrogation of Puri as he has allegedly been non-cooperative in this case.

He will be produced before a special court here on Tuesday, they said.

Puri was already under the probe scanner of the agency in connection with the high-profile AgustaWestland VVIP chopper corruption case and was facing a non-bailable warrant issued by a court after the ED submitted to it that the businessman might try to tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses “as he already did earlier”.

However, the Delhi high court had on August 14 granted interim protection from arrest to Puri till Tuesday.

The latest PMLA case emerges from a CBI FIR of August 17, where Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India.

The CBI had carried out multiple searches in pursuance of this FIR on Sunday.

The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption. Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as executive director of Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL), a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri.

The company is involved in the manufacture of optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid-state storage devices.

Ratul Puri had resigned from the post of executive director in 2012, while his parents continue to be on the board, the bank had said in a statement and compliant to the CBI.

The company [Moser Baer] was taking loans from various banks since 2009 and went for debt restructuring a number of times, the bank has alleged in the complaint which is now part of the CBI FIR.

When it was unable to pay the debt, a forensic audit was done and the account was declared as “fraud” by the Central Bank of India on April 20, 2019, it has alleged.

“…The MBIL has committed fraud and cheated the complainant bank thereby making a wrongful gain to themselves and a wrongful loss to the lender bank which is a custodian of public money,” the complaint to the CBI said.

The bank claimed that the company and its directors forged and fabricated documents to induce the Central Bank of India to release funds.

“MBIL has caused unlawful loss to our bank to the tune of Rs 354.51 crore as on November 29, 2014, and interest thereon by getting unlawful gains,” the complaint said.

Ratul Puri is facing criminal investigation by three main central probe agencies, ED, CBI and the Income Tax department.

The tax department has attached a number of his alleged ‘benami‘ assets in the recent past and has charged him with benefiting from the purported kickbacks generated in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP choppers deal case, cancelled by India in 2014 on charges of corruption.

No connection to business, says Kamal Nath

On Tuesday afternoon, Kamal Nath said that he had no connection with the business of his nephew Ratul Puri.  “To start with I have no connection with the business they are doing. I am neither a shareholder, nor a director,”  Nath told reporters in Bhopal.

“To me it appears to be purely malafide action. I have full faith the courts will take a corrective stand in this,” the chief minister said.