Rs.300 crore fraud in PNB, BOB and IOB, 49 people arrested

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A special PMLA court in Chandigarh has framed charges against 49 people in a 2016 money laundering case that caused a loss of nearly ₹300 crore to the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda.

The charges have been framed under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

On August 8, 2016, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Delhi, had registered an FIR under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 13 (2) read with Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against seven accused, including former officers of IOB and directors of some companies.

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The matter was also investigated by the Enforcement Directorate that registered another case under Section 44 (1) read with Section 45 of the PMLA.

How fraud was done?

The main accused, Ashu Mehra, former assistant manager, IOB, Chandigarh main branch, had fraudulently issued letters of undertaking through SWIFT messages that resulted in liability to the tune of ₹299 crore that IOB is yet to pay to Punjab National Bank, Dubai, and Bank of Baroda, Bahamas.

Probe so far has established involvement of 49 accused. Earlier in 2020, charges were framed against 44 accused and with the arrest of more accused, now charges have been reframed against 49.

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Apart from Mehra, the accused include another former assistant manager of the Chandigarh IOB branch Gaurav Bhatia; proprietors of two Chandigarh-based firms Dinesh Kumar of Vision Procon and Amanpreet Singh Sodhi of Heights International; Aman Kirpal and Gaurav Kirpal, directors of Chandigarh-based Sai Bhakti Impex Private Limited; and Brigadier MS Dullat (retd) of Chandigarh.

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