The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a chargesheet against Nita Puri, sister of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath, her son Ratul Puri, among others, for allegedly defrauding the Central Bank of India of over Rs 300 crore.

The case dates back to 2019 when the CBI, based on a complaint by the Central Bank of India, had registered a criminal case against Moser Baer India Ltd, a company in which Nita and her husband Deepak Puri were managing directors and her son Ratul Puri was executive director. The agency had alleged that Moser Baer had defrauded the Central Bank of India of around Rs 354 crore between 2009-’14.

Now, in its chargesheet, the agency has detailed the allegations, stating that Moser Baer “through its Directors had approached Central Bank of India in 2009 for grant of credit facilities for manufacture of optical storage media like CDs, DVDs and Solid State Media.”

The bank had sanctioned a medium term loan of Rs 100 crore and a letter of comfort of $10 million on October 5, 2009, followed by a short term loan of Rs 100 crore in 2010, the chargesheet says. A letter of comfort issued in favour of a form by a bank acts as a document reassuring others that the firm can meet its financial obligations.

In 2012, the bank, on the request of Moser Baer, further sanctioned a “One Shot Letter of Credit” of Rs 50 crore.

As per the bank’s complaint to the CBI, on November 29, 2014, “due to non payment of dues”, the bank classified Moser Baer’s account as a “Non Performing Asset” with an outstanding loan amount of Rs 354 crore.

The CBI, in its chargesheet, provides an explanation for the non-payment of dues. “The sales proceeds generated from the business were not deposited with the banks, and routed outside for siphoning off the monies,” it alleges.

It added that Moser Baer “made around [Rs] 1,500 crore investments in subsidiaries in related entities, and majority of these investments in the related entities were ‘written off’ by [the company], showing a clear intent for defrauding the banks.”

An official in the CBI told Scroll, on the condition of anonymity, that “Nita Puri and Ratul Puri submitted forged and fabricated documents and misrepresented resources with the banks, while availing credit facilities and loans, and so, both of them have been charged for cheating, fraud and forgery.”

Yogesh Bahadur Mathur, who was the chief financial officer in Moser Baer India Ltd, has also been arraigned as an accused in the chargesheet though he was not named in the FIR registered in 2019.

Officials in the CBI said the agency, after completing the investigation in 2022, had filed a chargesheet against the accused on February 9 that year. But the court had returned the chargesheet in January 2023 as “incomplete” for want of sanction to prosecute four bank officials under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Enforcement Directorate too has filed a related case against Ratul Puri under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Puri was arrested in the money laundering case in August 2019. At that time, Kamal Nath had dismissed the arrest as “pure mala fide action”. A Delhi court granted Puri bail in December 2019.
In 2020, the CBI had filed another case against Moser Baer and its directors Deepak Puri and Ratul Puri for defrauding a consortium of banks led by Punjab National Bank of Rs 787 crore.