The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a lookout notice against Vijay Kothari, the diamond trader who is the main accused and mastermind in the Rs 6000 crore fake import remittances case.
ED alleged that Kothari was less a diamond trader and more a hawala operator.
On Thursday, the agency also arrested one Anil Chokhara, ex-director of Kanika Gems Pvt Ltd and proprietor of Keshav Impex in a money laundering case. Chokhara in his capacity had indulged in submitting forged import documents including bills of entry and invoices to IndusInd Bank with the intent to fraudulently remit foreign exchange.
It was on the basis of the Enforcement Case Investigation Report (ECIR) filed against Yogeshwar Diamonds, Charbhuja Diamonds and Kanika Gems, and their directors, that the investigation was initiated by the ED two years ago. These three companies have allegedly been involved in a fraudulent foreign remittances scam worth Rs 6000 crore.
"It is a multi-layer scam where at least 200-300 shell companies or said dubious importers deposited fake bills of entries (of imports) in four banks. Later, remittances were made to unknown individuals outside India, especially in Hong Kong and Dubai," a source within the agency told India Today. These banks were ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Bank of India.
According to ED, investigation revealed Kanika Gems and other two companies had conspired among themselves at the IndusInd Bank branches and submitted forged bills of entry, impelling the bank to remit an approximate Rs 304 crores.
The agency believes the amount of remittances sent to overseas countries is expected to go much higher than the FIR amount of Rs 304 crore, as the said modus operandi has been adopted by above companies with respect to other banks also.
While seeking custodial interrogation before the special PMLA Court, ED counsel Hiten Venegaonkar argued saying, "Anil Chokhara was summoned on three occasions, but he didn't turned up. He is the main director of three companies. We believe somebody else is behind these inward and outward transactions. For that the agency would like to interrogate Chokhara."
During the arguments, Chokhara's advocate denied any role in the scam. The counsel argued that Chokhara was a whistleblower who exposed the scam and had already appeared before ED at least 35 times. "Does he look like a person who could take Rs 304 crore from any bank. He has been made director of these companies without his knowledge. The main masterminds like Vijay Kothari, Sanjay Jain and others who have not been arrested".
Sanjay Jain is a owner of one Mumbai-based movie theatre, and among the main accused who created these fake entry of bills. He has been interrogated thrice by investigators.