The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a fresh case against fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi and his company Geetanjali Gems for allegedly defrauding a public sector non-banking financial company, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday.
The central agency has accused the diamond trader of cheating the Industrial Finance Corporation of India of Rs 22.6 crore from 2014 to 2018.
The Central Bureau of Investigation filed the first information report on Saturday based on a complaint filed by an assistant general of the company, ANI reported. The investigation agency has invoked Indian Penal Code sections related to cheating and forgery.
In March 2016, Choksi allegedly sought a corporate loan of Rs 25 crore from the Industrial Finance Corporation of India for Geetanjali Gems’ working capital. The company approved the loan based on shares. Gold, diamond and gold-studded jewellery were pledged as securities.
The jewellery had been allegedly valued by Surajmal Lallu Bhai & Company, Narendra Jhaveri, Pradip Shah and Shrenik Shah. They have also been named as accused persons by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
After the loan was disbursed, Geetanjali Gems allegedly began defaulting on repayment installments. The Industrial Finance Corporation of India sought to sell the shares that had been pledged by Geetanjali Gems to recover the loan amount.
However, it could only sell 6,48,822 shares worth about Rs 4.07 crore out of the total 20,60,054 shares as Choksi’s client ID was suspended by the National Securities Depository Limited.
The Central Bureau of Investigation said that the Industrial Finance Corporation of India also got two firms – Markandeyaa Mineral Consultants & Traders and Aarch Consultants & Valuers – to carry out fresh valuations of the jewellery, India Today reported. In the fresh valuations, the value of the pledged jewels had allegedly decreased by 98% in three years.
“It also came to the light that the diamonds were of low-quality laboratory prepared chemical vapour diamonds and other inferior colour stones and not real gemstones,” the agency said in its FIR, according to the Hindustan Times.
Choksi is also wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. He is currently in Antigua and Barbuda, and has acquired the citizenship of the Caribbean island country.
Indian authorities are currently trying to extradite him to India.