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HNIs lodge 40 complaints

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

In a major development in the multi-crore financial fraud at Citibank, the Gurgaon Police have received as many as 40 complaints from high net-worth individuals and corporates in the past one week. Senior police officials said the complaints, which were individually lodged, are being individually assessed in detail.

Meanwhile, a special team from the Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi) completed questioning Shivraj Puri, a Citibank relationship manager and alleged mastermind of the fraud, and accomplice Sanjay Gupta, CFO at Hero Corporate Services. This is the second time that Sebi officials have questioned both the accused.

Investigators said the officials first questioned Puri and Gupta individually and then later together to spot any discrepancies in their statements.

The first case against Citibank in the fraud estimated at around Rs300 crore was filed by Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director of Helion Advisors and a high net-worth client of the bank. He claims to have lost Rs32.43 crore in the scam. According to the police, Puri had used a forged Sebi notification to dupe clients and used their money to trade in derivatives.

Aggarwal named Citibank global CEO Vikram Pandit and Chairman William R Rhodes, among several other senior officials of the bank, in his complaint alleging collusion among the bank’s top brass. However, the Gurgaon Police have not found any evidence to support this claim. Aggarwal also alleged he was duped because of a systematic failure on the part of the bank.

In the course of investigations, the police found that Puri had opened 18 Citibank accounts in the name of various family members. Although the police have probed the role of these family members, they believe that none of them, including his parents and grandparents, were actually involved in the scam or were even aware of his actions. Investigators have also learnt that Puri handled all these bank accounts alone.

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First Published: Tue, January 11 2011. 00:22 IST