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The Hindu
The Hindu
Devesh K Pandey

CBI registers fresh case against Mehul Choksi, others

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a fresh case against fugitive Mehul Choksi and others for allegedly cheating a consortium of banks to the tune of ₹55.27 crore.

In the first information report (FIR), the agency has named Mumbai-based Bezel Jewellery (India) Private Limited, its whole-time directors Choksi, Chetna Jayantilal Jhaveri, Dinesh Gopaldas Bhatia and Milind Anant Limaye as accused who cheated the consortium of Canara Bank and the Bank of Maharashtra.

Fund diversion

The two banks had extended credit facilities of ₹30 crore and ₹25 crore to the company. After the funds were disbursed, the company allegedly repaid its long-term borrowings of ₹18 crore to its parent company and “thereby diverted its working capital limits”. Of the entire limit, ₹10 crore was transferred to Gitanjali Gems Limited on the availment date, February 28, 2013.

The loan had been granted for the manufacture and sales of gold and diamond-studded jewellery. However, as alleged, the company did not route any of the business transactions through the loan accounts since inception and the ones which appeared in the accounts were with its group concerns only, which too indicated diversion of funds.

The FIR alleges that the company did not submit correct information related to the stocks, sales or realisations in the statements submitted to the banks. The accounts were always overdrawn due to interest debit. Besides, the company had availed itself of a ₹20-crore bank guarantee limit from HDFC Bank to buy gold.

The guarantee was invoked and paid by Canara Bank by converting the non-fund based limits into fund-based limits. The details of gold purchased on the basis of the bank guarantee was not provided by the company, it was alleged. The loan accounts turned non-performing assets during 2017-18.

Choksi, who is wanted in connection with the ₹13,578-crore Punjab National Bank fraud, had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda and moved there in January 2018, days before the CBI registered the first case against him. He is currently facing extradition proceedings and a case challenging the legal validity of his Antiguan citizenship.

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