The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today said it had notified all the land, sea and airports in the country to prevent the exit of the promoter of Rotomac pens, Vikram Kothari, and his family members from India, in connection with its money laundering probe into an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 3,695 crore. The agency also conducted searches at multiple locations in Uttar Pradesh, including in Unnao and Kanpur, to gather evidence in the case. Official sources said that according to a preliminary probe, the loan amount “was not used for the intended purpose”. They added that in order to ensure that the alleged defaulters, including Kothari, his wife Sadhna and son Rahul, did not flee the country, a Look-Out Circular (LOC) was issued and notified to the immigration authorities by the central probe agency.
The ED had slapped criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the company and its promoters on February 18, based on a CBI FIR filed on the same day. The CBI case was registered against Kanpur-based Rotomac Global Private Limited, its director Vikram Kothari, his wife Sadhna Kothari, son Rahul Kothari and unidentified bank officials on a complaint from the Bank of Baroda, the probe agency had said. The Bank of Baroda had alleged that the conspirators had cheated a consortium of banks to the tune of Rs 3,695 crore, including the interest component. The principal amount involved is Rs 2,919 crore.
The ED is soon expected to start attaching assets in the case. It is currently “ascertaining” the assets of the group. The agency sources had said that their probe was aimed at finding out if the funds obtained through the alleged fraud were laundered and if the proceeds of the crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.
Meanwhile, the Income Tax department today said it had attached 14 bank accounts of the pen manufacturer as part of its tax evasion probe against the company. This is the second major bank fraud to surface in the recent past after the sensational Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, allegedly committed by diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who is a promoter of the Gitanjali Group of companies. Both Modi and Choksi left the country last month.