ED arrests Chennai importer in bank fraud PMLA case

Chennai:The ED has arrested a local importer here in connection with its money laundering probe in an alleged bank fraud case worth over Rs 18 crore.

The central probe agency also attached, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), an amount of Rs 1.75 crore kept in the account of the importer, identified as K Liakath Ali.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said Ali ran a firm called Ms Galaxy Impex.

He has now been lodged in the central jail in Puzhal.

Ali was arrested by the ED in a similar money laundering probe case early this year after it conducted nation-wide raids against shell companies.

The ED booked a case in this over Rs 18 crore alleged bank fraud case, perpetrated using shell companies, on the basis of a police FIR.

“The police FIR was based on the complaint of the Indian Bank for cheating, using forged documents by certain importers. This is a case of trade based money laundering using shell companies by the traders engaged in the imports of electronic consumer goods,” the agency said in a statement.

It added that the importers remitted large amount of foreign exchange out of India and subsequently cheated an Indian Bank branch here.

“In this case forged bills of entry were used in the guise of actual documents generated through electronic data interface of the Indian Customs.

“Using these forged documents outward foreign exchange remittance to the tune of USD 2,786,300 (Rs 18,66,54,241) were made from the bank accounts held in the names of shell entities without effecting any physical imports,” it said.

The agency said Ali is the “mastermind” of this trade- based money laundering racket. It said it recovered “incriminating” documents after raids against him that revealed that forged bills of entry were used in the shell company accounts to facilitate outward remittance of foreign exchange.

“Ali was in possession of multiple PAN cards and driving licenses and he used to make minor variation in his name for opening bank accounts with various banks,” it said.

Shell companies are characterised by nominal paid up capital, high reserves and surplus on account of receipt of high share premium, investment in unlisted companies, no dividend income, high cash in hand, private companies as majority shareholders, low turnover and operating income and nominal expenses among others.