Kotak Mahindra Bank manager held, sent to ED custody

New Delhi, Dec 28 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested a Kotak Mahindra Bank manager for converting Rs 35 crore demonetised currency into new notes, and having alleged links with hawala trader Paras Mal Lodha and Delhi-based lawyer Rohit Tandon.

A city court later sent him to seven-day ED custody.

The ED officials arrested branch manager Ashish Kumar and booked him under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The officials later produced him before Duty Metropolitan Magistrate Ashok Kumar in Saket court seeking his 14-day custody to trace the money trail.

The Duty Magistrate later granted Ashish’s custody to the ED till January 2.

The ED officials informed the court that Ashish as a manager at Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Connaught Place branch had indulged in criminal conspiracy with various persons.

“Ashish charged huge commissions from them to change their demonetised currency amounting to Rs 35 crore by generating pay orders or demand drafts. This was done so that the accused persons could have new currency notes of the same amount,” said the ED officials, adding that for this purpose, several bank accounts of various companies were also opened by the bank manager.

The ED sources said that Ashish had also visited lawyer Rohit Tandon’s farmhouse in Delhi and took Rs 1.5 crore as commission from him to convert his demonetised high value currency into the new one.

Sources in the ED said Ashish also has links with hawala trader Lodha, a leading businessman with interests in real estate and mining, who was intercepted at the Mumbai airport while he was trying to flee to Malaysia.

Kotak Mahindra Bank on Wednesday said: “With reference to the ongoing investigation of the said accounts, Kotak Mahindra Bank had proactively informed Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the bank has already suspended the services of its employee, Ashish Kumar.”

“The bank has zero tolerance towards employees not adhering to its code of conduct, and takes strict measures against them. The bank confirms that it has a robust system of regularly and proactively filing necessary reports with the FIU for all large transactions,” Kotak Mahindra Bank said in a statement here.

The bank said it has on record all necessary KYC documents, including PAN card numbers.

On observing the nature of transactions in these accounts, Kotak Mahindra Bank had filed a report with the FIU for further investigation.

On subsequent investigation by the authorities, the bank, as per their instructions, has deposited the entire amount that was credited in these accounts with the Income Tax Department, the statement said.

“As can be seen from the bank’s actions, it has fully cooperated and communicated with the relevant authorities, and has demonstrated the highest standards of compliance, and it will continue to do so,” Kotak Mahindra Bank spokesperson Rohit Rao said.