CBI unearths Rs.1400 crore scam by jewellery traders (Lead)

October 29th, 2010 - 11:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Oct 29 (IANS) A group of jewellery traders is the prime suspect in a Rs.1,400 crore-plus scam in which the state-owned Mineral Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) was defrauded, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official said Friday.

Terming it as “a major scam,” CBI’s Joint Director (Western Region) Rishi Raj Singh said the role and involvement of MSTC officials has not been ruled out by the investigators.

Addressing media along Deputy Inspector General of Police Praveen Salunke and Superintendent of Police Abin Modak, Singh said that in 2008-09, six suppliers fraudulently exported gold jewellery worth Rs.600 crore to various buyers in the United Arab Emirates, for which they had taken an advance to the tune of Rs.480 crore from the MSTC.

The proceeds of that gold consignment sold in the UAE came back to India through the hawala channels, he said. Though the MSTC was to be paid its money from the UAE transaction within 170 days, nothing has been received by the state-owned MSTC till now.

“There have been lapses on the part of MSTC to the effect. Evaluation of the foreign buyers was left to the discretion of, and was conducted by, insurers, the ECGC (Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India) and ICICI Lombard. No LC (letter of credit) was opened with the importers as that would have protected the interest of the MSTC. This was the most serious flaw in the gold transaction,” Singh said.

Investigations have also discoverd another fraud of Rs.350 crore a few years ago, he added.

In this, the role of at least eight gold traders is under the CBI scanner while raids are continuing in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Raigad (Maharashtra).

The companies/owners being probed are: Ushma Jewellers and Packing Exports Pvt Ltd (director Vivek Vaidya), Space Mercantile Co Pvt Ltd (Shishir Dharkar, who is presently chairman of Pen Cooperative Urban Bank Ltd, his wife Gulraihna Oomer and Asif Sayeed and Radheshyam Bhoomavat, to whom the company was transferred later), K.A. Malle Pharmaceutical Pvt Ltd (Rakesh Kumar Gupta), Joshi Bullion and Gems Jewellery Pvt Ltd (Jayesh Desai), Bond Gems Pvt Ltd (a second company owned by Desai) and Indo Bonito Multinational Pvt Ltd (owned by Vinod Motwani).

The CBI is now in the process of impounding the companies and the alleged culprits are being questioned. “Jayesh Desai is the main person behind the scam,” Singh said.

It is alleged that the MSTC signed Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with all these companies by which they procured gold jewelery and arranged to export these to ECGC identified/approved buyers in the UAE.

In lieu of the exports, the MSTC provided them advances worth 80 percent of the value of the invoice.

Some of the ill-gotten money through these transactions has been diverted for major property investments in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, according to CBI officials.

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