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Demonetisation: Court extends ED custody of banker till Dec 15

New Delhi: An official of a private bank was today sent to three-day custody of Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) by a Delhi court, which also remanded another officer to judicial custody for alleged irregularities in conversion of old currency and supply of new notes.

Enforcement Directorate Director Karnal Singh
Enforcement Directorate Director Karnal Singh

Duty magistrate Shilpi Jain extended the ED custody of 32-year-old Vineet Gupta, now suspended Branch Manager in Axis Bank’s Kashmere Gate branch here, by three days after the agency submitted that he was not cooperating in the probe.

The court sent 33-year-old Shobit Sinha, the manager (operations) in the bank, to judicial custody till December 26 after ED said the probe was at the initial stage and it might take his custody later.

Special Public Prosecutor Vikas Garg, appearing for ED, contended that Gupta was “not cooperating at all” in the probe and recovery and sought his remand for seven more days.

He also said that Sinha and one Mohit Garg have said in their statements to the agency that one gold brick was given to Gupta, who was “frustrating” the proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the case.

The prosecutor argued that the Income Tax Department has seized the CCTV footage of the bank branch and cyber experts were cloning the footage, which would be given in 2-3 days to the ED which would confront Gupta with it, he added.

The custody plea was opposed by the defence counsel on the ground that their custodial interrogation was not needed.

Gupta and Sinha, who were arrested on December 4, were produced before the court on expiry of their seven-day ED custody. Both officials, who have been suspended by the bank, were arrested under the provisions of PMLA.

Besides them, ED has also arrested Rajeev Kumar Kushwaha, alleged to be the mastermind behind floating of shell companies, who is in the agency custody till December 15.

ED had earlier told the court that the two officials, in connivance with others, were indulging in illegally changing demonetised currency into new notes.
ED claimed that the probe has so far revealed that Rs 40

crore worth of currency and several companies were involved in the case. It had said a gold brick worth Rs 39 lakh has been recovered from Sinha while another is yet to be recovered.

It had claimed that Kushwaha “used the identity documents of various persons to form shell companies” through which cash deposits worth Rs 39 crore were made between November 10 and November 22 in “close connivance” with the two bank managers.

The prosecutor had said the two bank officials were taking one per cent commission against the total amount of money deposited. They agreed to accept the commission in the form of gold bar which was worth Rs 39 lakh, he had said.

He had said the cash collected by sale of gold using demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, was “laundered through banking channels with the help of money launderers who are professionally qualified Chartered Accountants and managing several dummy/shell companies and finally payments from such shell companies were made through RTGS to bullion dealers and the physical gold, purchased at market rate of Rs 31,000-Rs 32,000 per 10 gms, was handed over to the persons from whom advances were received”.

Axis Bank had said in a statement that “the bank is committed to following the highest standards of corporate governance and has zero tolerance towards any deviation on the part of any of its employees from the set model code of conduct. In this particular case, the bank has suspended the erring employee and is cooperating with the investigating agencies.”

A number of bank accounts of various people and traders are under the scanner of the agency in the case, ED had said.

ED had registered a criminal complaint against the two bankers and others based on a Delhi Police FIR after three persons were intercepted with Rs 3.7 crore cash in old currency a few days ago in front of the bank’s Kashmere Gate branch.

The Income Tax department too had surveyed the bank branch and searched the residential premises of the two.

PTI

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