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Koda scam: Discrepancies in Balaji books

The money trail in the Madhu Koda case keeps finding its way to a clutch of companies of the Mumbai-based Balaji Group. Officials of
the Enforcement Directorate, who were in Mumbai to examine records of these companies, have found “discrepancies” in documents of the firm.

Several companies of the group — Balaji Universal Trade, Balaji Bullion — have featured in the investigations. During the two-year period that Mr Koda was chief minister of Jharkhand, several of his close associates such as Binod Sinha, Arvind Vyas, Sanjay Chaudhary, became board members of these companies by acquiring a major stake in them. Investigators suspect that fake invoices could have been made to route the multi-crore hawala money.

Sources said the questioning, done by a joint team of ED and Income Tax department, mainly focused on cross checking of documents seized by the income tax department during its nationwide searches at about 76 premises of Mr Koda and his associates.

Already, I-T officials have found documentary evidence of cash transactions by Koda associates. Between November 2006 and December 2008, hawala trader Manoj Punamia made cash deposits amounting to Rs 640 crore in a Union Bank of India account for Balaji Group company, Balaji Universal Trade. Punamia was earlier found to have been involved in transferring Rs 550 crore through the hawala route to Dubai for investments on behalf of Balaji Bullion.

Meanwhile, Manoj Punamia, who played a key role in the transfer of money for Koda associates, was questioned by investigators. It would appear that investigators have enough details to pin down Punamia. Sources indicated that faced with the mountain of evidence, Punamia was ready to turn approver, however he now seems to be reconsidering.

Source: Economic Times


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