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CBI books 51 entities for transferring Rs 1,038-crore black money to Hong Kong

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Most of these entities are owned by a handful of people from Chennai, who duped Punjab National Bank, Bank of India and State Bank of India.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked 51 entities and unknown officials of three public sector banks for allegedly remitting Rs 1,038 crore of black money to Hong Kong during 2014-15, agency sources said on Monday.

Most of these entities are owned by a handful of people from Chennai, who duped Punjab National Bank, Bank of India and State Bank of India. This is the second big bank fraud that PNB has had to suffer following the Rs 13,500 crore fraud perpetrated by fugitive jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

The agency has named three individuals — Mohammed Ibramsa Johney, Zinta Midhar and Nizamuddin — besides 48 companies in the first information report (FIR), the officials said.

The CBI had received information that 51 current accounts of 48 firms were opened in four branches of these banks “solely for effecting outward remittances” to the tune of Rs 1,038.34 crore, the agency officials said.

The investigative agency has alleged that 24 accounts were used for outward foreign remittances in US dollars equivalent to Rs 488.39 crore as advance payment for goods imported and 27 were used to remit Rs 549.95 crore towards foreign travel of Indian tourists.

The probe agency has alleged that of 24 companies, 10 had made imports in small quantities but the goods imported and value of imports did not match with the invoices submitted by the firms to the banks.

“It has been further revealed that the accused and others who were involved ... were paid commission on the basis of amount transferred and the duration for which the bank accounts remained active and that the concerned bank officials were also bribed in cash,” the CBI FIR alleged.

The agency also alleged that most of the remittances were made in the second half of 2015 and the annual turnover of the firms was shown in lakhs, whereas the amounts remitted were in crores, which was “fraudulently and dishonestly” facilitated by the bank officials.