Citi Fraud: Pandit Named in Fresh FIR Filed By An HNI

Citi Fraud: Pandit Named in Fresh FIR Filed By An HNI
Vikram Pandit, the Indian-born global CEO of Citibank, and its Chairman William R Rhodes, were today named in an FIR filed with police accusing the bank of cheating and criminal breach of trust in connection with the Rs 300 crore fraud here.

Several high networth individuals have also complained that their securities were encashed without their knowledge in the fraud allegedly masterminded by the Gurgaon branch relationship officer Shivraj Puri.

Local police registered a case on the basis of an FIR naming Pandit and 10 other officials filed by a high networth individual (HNI) Sanjeev Aggarwal, Managing Director, Helion Advisors, that accused the top executives of criminal breach of trust and cheating.

The others who have been named in the FIR include Citibank's senior officials CFO John Gerspach and COO Doughlas Peterson (both based in New York).

"We got the complaint and immediately registered the FIR (First Information Report)" Gurgaon police commissioner S S Deswal told PTI.

In the FIR, Aggarwal, who is a resident of Gurgaon, alleged criminal breach of trust, falsification of accounts, cheating and criminal conspiracy by the officials of the Citibank.

"All persons named (in FIR) ... In collusion and conspiracy with each other and other known or unknown persons, (and) have misappropriated large sums of money to the tune of Rs 32.43 crore" Aggarwal said in his complaint.

The case has been registered under sections 409, 477A, 420 and 120B of IPC.

The fraud at the bank's Gurgaon branch, involving diversion of depositors money into the stock market, was uncovered last week.

The others who figure in the FIR are Amit Zarpuri, Ashwini Chaddha, Amrita Farmahan, Rahul Soota, N Rajshekaran, Pramit Jhaveri and Shivraj Puri, the main accused in the fraud case.

Meanwhile, several high networth individuals (HNIs), who are victims of the fraud have complained to the police that their securities were encashed without their knowledge.

"We are examining the complaints of HNIs," a senior police official said.

These investors were lured into investing funds on promise of high returns by Puri, the main accused in the Rs 300 crore scam.

Police, sources said, was in touch with all HNI investors which include about 20 corporate entities.

These investors have complained to the police about liquidation of their shareholding from their demat accounts without their knowledge.

Among the major investors, Hero Group entities had reportedly invested Rs 250 crore in various schemes.

Police has already questioned senior officials of two brokerage entities - Religare Securities and Bonanza - through which the money was routed in the stock exchanges, mainly Nifty index options (derivatives).

Gurgaon Police is also taking help of Chartered accountants to crack this case.

Aggarwal, in a statement, said, "I am devastated at the loss of my savings and strongly feel that Citibank NA is accountable to return my money."

"Being a multinational bank of formidable repute, we trusted Citibank with our life savings which have now been wiped out by an illegal act and offence committed by the bank and its employees," he added.

He further said that it was impossible for an employee to undertake fraud of such a scale without the knowledge of bank and questioned "where are the checks and balances of the bank?"

He further alleged that over the past 18 months the Relationship Manager assigned by Citibank has been regularly sending fabricated portfolio statement from his bonafide account mentioning the various investments made and the current value of their account.

Meanwhile, a statement by Citibank late tonight said it had identified the fraud and immediately reported the matter to the regulator and the law enforcement agencies.

The statement dismissed allegations by Puri against senior executives of the bank.

"His claims against senior executives are completely without basis and we intend to contest them vigorously", the statement said.

It was on Citi complaint that the Gurgaon police lodged an FIR and are currently investigating the matter. "Citi will continue to work with the authorities on this investigation", it said.
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