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HDFC Bank comes under radar of CBI, ED

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into the Bank of Baroda Scam reached the doorsteps of HDFC Bank on Tuesday after one of the six persons arrested by the agencies turned out to be an official of HDFC Bank's forex department.

Only Rs 343 crore, approximately 7 percent, of the total 5,151 crore, was deposited in 59 accounts as payment for imports, while the rest of the money came through banking channels from other banks including Hong Kong-based HSBC and China construction bank, according to the investigative agencies.

The information has come on a day when both CBI and ED arrested two and four persons respectively for alleged laundering of Rs 6,000 crore at a branch of Bank of Baroda.

The CBI arrested Suresh Kumar Garg, the assistant general manager of Ashok Vihar Branch and Jainis Dubey, the foreign exchange head, the ED arrested Sanjay Aggarwal, Gurucharan Singh Kamal Kalra and Chandan Bhatia, who were allegedly involved in the transaction of fifteen accounts.

Aggarwal, Bhatia and Singh are said to be owners of companies based in Dubai and Hong Kong towards which the money was being transferred through 59 accounts at the bank's Ashok Vihar branch.

Kamal Karla, who is one of the accused arrested for his role in Bank of Baroda Scam, told investigators that he works in the forex department of HDFC bank and worked with other accused arrested in connection to the scam, according to the ED.

Karla said that he had been helping Aggarwal and Bhatia for remitting the amount through Bank of Baroda. According to the ED, Karla used get a commission of 30-50 paise on every dollar remitted abroad.

The investigative agencies believe that the transfer of the massive amounts of money is in fact a Trade Based Money Laundering instead of a case of transferring black money. An official said that it is not the case of black money hoarded overseas but it is a case of Trade Based Money Laundering where exporter is gaining out of duty drawback due to over invoicing and importer gaining out of saving Customs duty by under invoicing.

59 new current accounts were opened in Delhi's Ashok Vihar branch in the name of different companies, following which crores of rupees were deposited into these accounts, sometimes four-five times a day, according to the internal audit of the bank.

The companies, whose owners are shown to be different persons, requested the bank for forex transfers to certain companies in Hong Kong. The recently arrested men gave agencies an insight into the Hong Kong based companies modus operandi of their owners.

Questioning revealed that the cost to exporter for remitting $1 abroad comes out to approximately Rs 1.20. The process involves changing the color of money from black to white and vice versa.