The Mumbai Anti-Corruption Bureau of the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested six persons here on Friday on charges of cheating the Metals Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) to the tune of Rs. 480 crore under the pretext of exporting gold jewellery to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Those arrested include Pen Urban Co-Operative Bank Limited chairman Shishir Dharkar; his wife Gul Raihina; Pen Urban Co-Operative Bank director Prem Kumar Sharma; Joshi Bullion Gems and Jewellery Private Limited director Jayesh Desai; Strategic Consultancy partner Rahis Ahmed and Great Aid consultant and proprietor R. Mani.
The CBI had registered a case against Mr. Dharkar and some unknown officials of the MSTC and Pen Co-Operative Bank Limited on October 25. They have now been arrested for custodial interrogation and remanded to police custody for 12 days, till December 6.
The CBI had maintained that Mr. Dharkar was the mastermind behind the fraud. It was investigating six agencies for their alleged involvement: Ushma Jewellers and Packing Exports Private Limited, Space Mercantile Corporation Private Limited, Malle Pharmaceutical Private Limited, Joshi Bullions and Gems Jewellery Private Limited, Bond Gems Private Limited and Indo Bonito Multinational Private Limited.
These companies had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the MSTC for exporting gold worth Rs. 600 crore to buyers in the UAE. The MSTC gave these exporters 80 per cent credit worth Rs. 480 crore for creating liquidity. It was supposed to get one per cent of the deal, or Rs. 6 crore, within 170 days of the transaction.
However, the transaction never took place. Instead of sending the gold to the given companies in UAE, the exporters sold it in the open market there, earning more than Rs. 600 crore in the process. That money was brought to the country through Hawala transactions.
The Rs. 480 crore was used to buy benami properties, especially in the Raigad area. According to investigations, the buyers were the sellers too.