State firms defrauded by group of jewellery traders: CBI

Friday, October 29, 2010

MUMBAI - The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday said it has unearthed a Rs.1,400 crore-plus scam involving a group of jewellery traders who defrauded the state enterprises, Mineral Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) and the State Trading Corporation (STC).

Terming it as “a major scam”, CBI Joint Director (Western Region) Rishi Raj Singh said that though no arrests have been made so far in the scam, the role or involvement of MSTC officials is not being ruled out.

Addressing media persons here Friday evening, Singh, Deputy Inspector General of Police Praveen Salunkhe and Superintendent of Police Abin Modak said that in 2008-2009, six suppliers fraudulently exported gold jewellery worth Rs.600 crore to various buyers in United Arab Emirates.

This consignment sold in the UAE found its way back to India through the hawala channels, they said, adding the suppliers had taken advance payment to the tune of Rs.480 crore from the MSTC.

While investigating the matter, the CBI also found that these suppliers had defrauded the State Trading Corporation a few years back to the tune of Rs.350 crore.

“You can yourself calculate the amount,” Singh said, referring to the scale of the scam.

The payment for the sales was to have been received within 170 days, but no proceeds have been received by the MSTC so far, he said.

“There have been lapses on the part of the MSTC. Evaluation of the foreign buyers was left to the discretion of and was conducted by insurers, and ICICI Lombard. No LC (letter of credit) was opened with the importers as that would have protected the interest of MSTC. This was the most serious flaw in gold transaction,” Singh explained.

CBI raids are continuing in Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Raigad, and detailed investigations were under progress, he said.

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