The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday froze assets and properties worth more than Rs 2,747 crore owned by ABG Shipyard, its group companies, and other related entities. These include agricultural lands, dockyards, and bank deposits. This was in connection with the ED’s money-laundering probe into what could be the country’s biggest bank fraud.
The move comes a day after the shipping firm’s former chairman Rishi Agrawal was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Both the ED and CBI are probing the firm and its promoters for allegedly duping a consortium of 28 banks led by ICICI Bank of Rs 22,842 crore.
The seized properties include shipyards in Surat and Dahej, agricultural lands and plots, commercial and residential premises in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and bank accounts owned by ABG Shipyard, its group companies and other related entities and associates, the federal agency said in a statement.
Investigation by the ED revealed ABG Shipyard and Agarwal took credit facilities/loans from a consortium of banks led by ICICI Bank supposedly to meet capital requirements and other business expenses.
However, the shipping firm had allegedly misappropriated the credit facilities and diverted the funds to related entities incorporated in India and abroad, causing a significant loss to the consortium, the ED said.
The ED case has been filed under various Sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after the investigators studied the CBI complaint and the forensic audit report. On February 7, the CBI had booked Agarwal, the then executive director Santhanam Muthaswamy, and directors Ashwini Kumar, Sushil Kumar Agarwal, and Ravi Vimal Nevetia.
ICICI Bank has the highest exposure to the entities with Rs 7,089 crore, followed by IDBI Bank (Rs 3,639 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 2,925 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 1,614 crore), and Punjab National Bank (Rs 1,244 crore).