Citibank fraud: ED freezes Puriís assets

Nearly two years after a relationship manager with a Gurgaon branch of Citibank was arrested during investigation of a Rs 250 crore fraud, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued an attachment order on Sunday. The order for Rs 20 crore was issued against the alleged mastermind of the fraud, Shivraj Puri, and his wife.

The attachment order was issued under stringent sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Puri is accused of siphoning over Rs 250 crore while working at a Citibank branch in DLF Phase-II, Gurgaon, officials said.

The ED's attachment order covers two bank accounts in the name of Puri and his wife. According to ED, Puri's bank account had Rs 7 crore while his wife's account had a balance of Rs 29 lakh.

Two immovable properties in the name of family members were also attached by the ED. Puri had allegedly bought land in Gurgaon and Palam Vihar.

In its attachment order, ED described the two tracts of land as "proceeds of crime".

Beside the land and bank accounts, ED also attached the two other bank accounts opened by Puri and his associates in the name of private companies.

These accounts were allegedly used for bogus firms which Puri floated to attract investors. According to the ED, Puri was given 40 days to appeal against the attachment order before an appellate authority.

Puri allegedly lured investors by promising high returns on investment. He reportedly promised a return of 18 to 20 per cent.

According to investigators, Puri opened 36 accounts with different banks and financial institutions in Delhi, Kolkata and Gurgaon.

An ED official said, "We have examined these bank accounts but most of them had a small sum of money. We also examined bank statements and found large number of transactions in very short duration."

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