CBI files fresh FIR against Pushpak Bullions

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MONTHS AFTER the CBI closed its case against a company named Pushpak Bullions Pvt Ltd on grounds that there was no evidence to prove charges including cheating and forgery, the central agency has now filed another FIR against the company and others.

The FIR names Pushpak Bullions, a company engaged in bullion trading and manufacturing and export of jewellery, its directors Chandrakant Patel, Amit Sampat and unknown public servants of Union Bank of India and Bank of India. Patel on Tuesday approached the special CBI court in Mumbai seeking anticipatory bail, which is scheduled for hearing next week. Last month, the CBI had also approached the court seeking permission to conduct searches in Mumbai and other places linked to the case.

In 2017, the CBI and subsequently the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had named Pushpak Bullions in separate complaints claiming that between November 15 and November 26, 2016, cash to the tune of Rs 84.6 crore was fraudulently shown to have been deposited in a current account of two companies. It was claimed that this was done by fabricating records at the time of demonetisation where notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were withdrawn as currency. The amount was alleged to have been transferred into an NPA (Non-Performing Asset) account in the name of Pushpak Bullion Pvt Ltd, maintained with the same bank.

The ED had claimed that bank norms were violated to convert tainted money as untainted money. The ED had in March 2022 also provisionally attached 11 residential flats of Pushpak Bullions at a real estate project developed by Shree Saibaba Grihanirmiti Pvt Ltd, a company promoted by Shridhar Madhav Patankar, the brother of Rashmi Thackeray, wife of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

In 2020, however, the CBI had filed its first closure report claiming that there was no evidence to substantiate the charges. The court had directed the CBI to continue its probe and again in 2022 the agency said that it stood by its closure report and maintained that there was no evidence. The special court had in August accepted the CBI’s report and closed the case stating that the queries raised by it were answered satisfactorily by the central agency, even as the ED opposed the report, claiming an improper probe by the CBI.

The current FIR dates back to transactions preceding the earlier FIR. It states that the case resulted out of a complaint filed by an official of Union Bank of India in 2020 claiming that Pushpak Bullions’ directors had entered into a criminal conspiracy and got credit facilities sanctioned aggregating to Rs 140 crore to it from Union Bank of India and Bank of India.

The CBI has alleged that forged financial statements were submitted and funds were siphoned off from debtors. The agency alleged that wrongful loss to the tune of Rs 83.19 crore was caused to both banks in total. The FIR is on sections including 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 467, 468, 471 (related to forgery) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The complaint given in 2020 by Union Bank states that Pushpak Bullions had applied for financial assistance and the bank had sanctioned consortium finance in the form of cash credit/gold metal loan of Rs 140 crore and till 2016 had availed working capital limits from both the banks. The complaint states that in 2015, the company’s account started showing irregularity in servicing interest and instalments. The account was a Non-Performing Assets from February 2016.