Mumbai– The ED on Tuesday said it has got custody of businessman Vijay Kothari who illegally remitted foreign exchange worth Rs 500 crore outside India through banks in 2012-13 by submitting forged bills of entry and other forged import documents.

The ED said that Kothari had been absconding for last two years and now surrendered before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court which granted the agency his custody till March 29. In October 2017, the court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Kothari for his non-appearance.

The agency said that Kothari was involved in layering of funds in his five companies by carrying out web of transactions through these companies and also other shell companies floated by him.

“Kothari had control over scores of such bank accounts and had managed to illegally remit funds outside India.”

The ED initiated investigation based on FIR registered by Mumbai Police against Yogeshwar Diamonds Pvt Ltd, Shree Charbhuja Diamonds Pvt Ltd, and Kanika Gems Pvt Ltd for illegal remittance of foreign exchanges through IndusInd Bank’s Opera House Branch in the city.

“Accused persons had arranged foreign outward remittances by submitting forged bills of entry, having resemblance to original bills of entry and dishonestly caused the IndusInd bank to send foreign exchange remittances outside India to various companies accounts in Hongkong to the tune of Rs 500 crore,” said the ED.

The ED so far has arrested four persons in the case. Those held identified as Anil Chokhara, the owner of Yogeshwar Diamonds, Shree Charbhuja Diamonds and Kanika Gems — Sanjay Jain, an ex-director of Raghukul Diamonds, and Saurabh Pandit, the director of Hongkong-based firms Sky Light, and Link Fai and Companies.

The ED has also arrested a Co-operative Bank Manager, Machindra Khade, who had assisted in opening dummy bank accounts to infuse funds into the banking system.

“During investigation, all the arrested accused persons have named Vijay Kothari as the mastermind behind the criminal activity of money laundering and fraudulent remittances of foreign exchange outside India by way of submitting forged import documents with various Banks in India,” said the ED.

The agency said it has attached Rs 20 crore properties in the case and that investigation is still in progress. (IANS)