CBI books Soni Ispat for defrauding ₹42 cr from BOB, PNB

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered two cases against Indore-based Soni Ispat Limited and others for alleged bank fraud involving loans to the tune of ₹42.20 crore extended by the Bank of Baroda and the Punjab National Bank.

Among those named as accused in the FIRs are Rajeev Lochan Soni, Vijay Soni, Sunil Anand, Sharang Soni and Jagdish Chandra Naredi

In its complaint, the Bank of Baroda alleged diversion of funds, causing a loss of ₹26.41 crore. Soni Ispat, promoted by Metalman Group, had approached the bank in 2010 for working capital limit. Various credit facilities were extended from July 2010 to March 2011.

In all, 17 Letters of Credit (LCs) amounting to ₹24.70 crore were devolved and the bills drawn by various suppliers were paid by the bank. Two LCs amounting to ₹7.38 crore were in favour of Fast Cast India Limited and three for ₹9.82 crore were in favour of Opal Tradimpex Private Limited.

The FIR alleged that Fast Cast India had been removed from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs portal and its last balance sheet was filed in March 2009, which indicated that the bills obtained by Soni Ispat were accommodation entries, without any underlying genuine trade transactions.

Opal Tradimpex Private Limited’s networth in March 2010 was only ₹1.02 lakh and it had not made any business transactions during 2008-10.

The company management allegedly liquidated the entire working capital assets March 2011 onwards and the funds were siphoned off. A forensic audit revealed unauthorised transactions among various group entities, frequent omissions and commissions by unknown bank officials, as alleged.

In its complaint, the Punjab National Bank alleged cheating involving ₹15.79 crore. There were alleged irregularities in the issuance of LCs in favour of the group concerns of Soni Pspat. Bills amounting ₹45.84 crore related to Opal Tradimpex, Fast Cast India, Ispat Steel and Metal Industry, and Shree Kshemkari Steel.

According to the FIR, over 92% of withdrawals related to LC transactions were used to clear the payment towards the LCs favouring the group associates.

Soni Ispat had also got Export Packing Credit (EPC) in favour of Excorp Commodities LLC, Dubai. However, no commercial invoice was made by the said company. On several occasions, the EPC account was settled through transfer of funds from cash credit and current account of Soni Ispat, said the FIR, adding that EPC funds were also used to make payments to another company.


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