Gold export scam: six remanded in CBI custody

The anti-corruption wing of CBI on Friday arrested six persons, including a chairman and a former director of a co-operative bank, for their alleged involvement in a Rs 480-crore scam related to export of gold through MSTC Ltd, a Government of India undertaking nominated for gold exports under the foreign trade policy.

The CBI said the six had colluded with a few MSTC officials, used fake and forged documents to export gold worth Rs 600 crore to various buyers in the UAE. It said six exporter firms had, in 2008-'09, taken Rs 600 crore from the MSTC as advance for exporting gold to the UAE. "While Rs 120 crore was sent to the MSTC, the remaining amount was not remitted within the stipulated 170-day period. Preliminary investigations revealed that the amount was siphoned off," CBI counsel Bharat Badami said in the court. "The MSTC officials accepted the fake documents and released 80 per cent of the export value to six exporter firms... We are yet to find out who these officals are..."

The arrested include Pen Cooperative Urban Bank chairman Shirish Dharkar, former director Prem Kumar Sharma, Space Mercantile Ltd director Gulraihna Oomer, Dharkar's wife, consultant and partner of Strategic Consultancy Rahis Ahmed, Great Aid owner Ramamurthi Mani and Joshi Bullion and Gems Jewelry and Bond Gems owner Jayesh Desai. All of them have been remanded in CBI custody till December 6.

The prosecution case is that the gold consignment was received by Desai in the UAE, who was acting on the instructions of Dharkar and Sharma. It claimed that Desai had sold the gold in the open market and transferred the amount to the accounts of Ushma Jewelry, Space Mercantile, Joshi Bullion and Gemad Jewelry and Leo Diamond. The funds obtained from the MSTC were allegedly diverted through accounts maintained at the Pen Co-operative Urban Bank.

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