ED arrests Kamal Nath kin Ratul Puri in loan fraud case

Puri was placed under arrest under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) late Monday night. (DH photos)

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's businessman-nephew Ratul Puri in connection with a money laundering case arising out of a Rs 354.51 crore bank loan fraud case.

In further trouble, Delhi High Court rejected his plea for anticipatory bail in connection with with the investigations into multi-crore AgustaWestland deal in which he was questioned earlier.

Puri was placed under arrest by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Monday night after he appeared before the agency here in the loan fraud case.

Kamal Nath described the arrest as an "action with malicious intention" while the BJP said it was based on its investigation. “I have no connection with Puri's business. But, I think the arrest appears to be an action take with malicious intention. It is sad that all the agencies are being misused for political purpose," he told reporters.

The ED filed the case on the basis of the CBI FIR filed last Saturday in connection with the multi-crore loan fraud allegedly involving optical disc maker Moser Baer, where he was Executive Director till 2012. His father and Moser Baer Managing Director Deepak Puri, his mother and whole-time Director Nita Puri and Directors Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma are also named by the CBI in the case.

According to the CBI FIR, 14 banks have given crores of rupees as loan to the company and went for debt restructuring a number of times. The CBI has invoked charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery as well as relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Central Bank has identified that the company has defrauded it of Rs 354.51 crore. A forensic audit was done later and the account was declared as "fraud" by the Central Bank of India on 20 April, 2019.

“The funds granted by the banks have been misused and misappropriated by Moser Baer and its Directors/promoters for their own personal use...have also committed fraud in respect of reporting book debts, which were also one of the primary securities of the bank...Moser Baer, through its Directors/promoters, has forged and fabricated documents and induced Central Bank of India to release funds," the CBI FIR had said.

In the High Court, Ratul Puri's lawyer Abhishek Singhvi said his client was cooperating with the agency and there was no need for custodial interrogation.

However, ED's lawyer Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi opposed the plea saying he was evasive in his replies and his answers were ex-facie misleading.

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