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CBI books 48 firms for transferring Rs 1,038 crore black money to Hong Kong

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against 48 companies, three individuals and some unidentified officials of three public sector banks for transferring Rs 1,038 crore black money to Hong Kong in 2014-15, officials said on Monday.

The individuals — identified as Mohammad Ibramsa Johny, Zinta Midhar and Nizamuddin — and the 48 companies named by the CBI in its FIR filed on January 3 mentions their address in Chennai.

In the FIR, CBI said that these firms were “fictitious” and informed that they showed outward foreign remittances on the pretext of import of goods and foreign travel by Indian tourists whereas there was no such business.

As per the CBI, the bank officials were paid bribes in cash for assisting in the fraud. The probe agency got inputs about 51 current accounts of the 48 firms which were opened in four branches of Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of Mysore (now SBI).

The FIR mentions that these accounts were used for outward foreign remittances of Rs 1,038.34 crore.

“Out of these 51 accounts, 24 were used for outward foreign remittances in American dollars equivalent to over Rs 488 crore towards the advance payment of import of goods. Twenty-seven accounts were used for outward foreign remittances in dollars equivalent to over Rs 549 crore towards foreign travel by Indian tourists,” the FIR stated.

As per the CBI, the accused persons and companies submitted voter IDs, PAN cards, driving licences, certificate of registration of forms, certificate of import export code of 35 firms issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Chennai, rental agreements for the purpose of fulfilling KYC norms in different combinations while sending advance remittances for import of goods.

The probe agency said that of the 24 firms, only 10 made imports in small quantities. It was also revealed that the goods imported and value of imports did not match with the details and invoices submitted by the firms to banks concerned and that the value of such imports was very less compared to the value of invoices submitted by the firm at the time of remitting the funds for imports abroad, the CBI said.

Explaining the role of bank officials, the CBI said they were paid “commission on the basis of amount transferred and duration for which the bank accounts remained active”.

As per the FIR, it is apparent that the bank officials were having dominion and control with regard to foreign exchange and they had to follow the mandate issued by the Reserve Bank of India with utmost sincerity and due care.

Most of the remittances were remitted during the second half of 2015, the FIR said, adding that it was seen that the annual turnover of the firms were shown in lakhs, whereas the amounts remitted were in crores, which were fraudulently and dishonestly facilitated by the bank officials.