New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s businessman nephew, Ratul Puri, has been arrested by the ED in a fresh case of money laundering linked to an alleged Rs 354 crore bank loan fraud case, officials said on Tuesday.
Ratul Puri was placed under arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on late Monday night after he appeared before the central probe agency hereafter 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 Ratul Puri as he has allegedly been non-cooperative in this case. He will be produced before a special court here on Tuesday, they said.
Ratul Puri was already under the probe scanner of the agency in connection with the high-profile AgustaWestland VVIP choppers 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 14 August granted interim protection from arrest to Ratul Puri till Tuesday. The latest PMLA case emerges from a CBI FIR of 17 August, 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 20 April 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 29 November 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.