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CBI arrests six persons in ₹6,000 cr remittance scam at Bank of Baroda

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested six persons in connection with the 6,000-crore foreign exchange remittance scam in the Bank of Baroda. The case was first detected in 2015.

The central probe agency had carried out searches at 14 locations in connection with the case, officials told news agency PTI.

The CBI arrested six individuals – Tanuj Gulati, Ish Bhutani, Ujjwal Suri, Hunney Goel, Sahil Wadhwa and Rakesh Kumar – under the ongoing probe in the case, the officials said.

The agency had filed a chargesheet in the Court of Special Judge on December 12, 2015, against then AGM of the Bank of Baroda and then forex officer of the bank, CBI spokesperson RC Joshi said.

The agency in 2015 had booked several officials of the bank and others for allegedly making remittances of over 6,000 crore to South-East Asian countries by 59 current account holders from the Ashok Vihar branch of Bank of Baroda in the garb of purported payments of “non-existent” imports, they said.

CBI sources said the agency has found that the Ashok Vihar branch was a relatively new branch which had permission to entertain Forex transactions only in 2013.

They said that 6,000 crore was transferred through nearly 8,000 transactions done between July 2014 and July 2015.

The amount remitted in each transaction was kept at less than $100,000.

“All the remittances were made to Hong Kong. The amount was remitted as advance for import and in most of the cases, the beneficiary was the same,” an official had said after filing of the FIR,” the senior official had said.

“Most of the foreign exchange-related transactions were carried out in newly opened current accounts wherein heavy cash receipts were observed but the branch did not generate an exceptional transaction report (ETR) and did not monitor the high value transactions,” the official had added.

The sources said these remittances were sent by splitting them into amounts below $100,000 to avoid automatic detection by software used by banks to alert them about such transactions.

They said in taxation language the technique is known as smurfing and holders were able to skip the scrutiny of such transactions.

The sources said most of the 59 accused have been identified by the agency.

“It was revealed that most of the addresses given by the companies / firms were either false or the companies / firms did not exist at the said addresses. Most of the accused persons allegedly involved in perpetration of the said crime have been identified and their interrogation is underway,” the official had said.

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