Nathella Sampath jewellers reportedly defrauded a consortium of 14 banks, led by the State Bank of India to the tune of Rs 250 crore.

ED attaches Rs 328 crore worth assets of Nathella Sampath JewelleryImage for representation
news Fraud Thursday, August 02, 2018 - 15:15

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday attached Rs 328 crore worth assets of Nathella Sampath Jewellery Pvt Ltd, its promoters and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

This is in connection with a case where the jewellers defrauded a consortium of 14 banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI).

In a complaint lodged with the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) in March, the SBI had said, “Nathella Sampath Jewelry had misrepresented financial statements from 2010 and liquidated the primary asset kept as security/collateral. About Rs 250 crore loans were sanctioned by SBI in a consortium arrangement — which has been classified by the bank as fraudulent on December 22, 2017 — for having misrepresented the financial statements from 2010 and liquidated its primary asset. The matter has been reported to CBI for necessary action.”

In October last year, Nathella Sampathu Chetty, a part of the larger Nathella group, admitted to cheating investors to the tune of Rs 75 crore.

Following this, the jewellers had to shut shop, bringing to an end a 77-year-old business, for failing to repay dues to customers as part of a chit fund scheme. Hundreds of police complaints were filed against its management for duping customers in a ‘gold savings’ scheme from which they got no returns.

A case was registered against the managing director of the firm, Ranganatha Gupta, his sons Prabanna Kumar and Prasanna Kumar and their relative Kota Suresh under IPC sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) and relevant sections of the Tamil Nadu Protection of Interest of Depositors Act, 1997.

In November 2017, the jewellers assured the Economic Offences Wing investigating the case that they were “taking steps to mitigate the crisis” and that they “planned to repay dues to subscribers of gold savings schemes by March next year.”

There are a series of cases of jewellers being accused of fraud involving hundreds of crores of rupees. In February this year, it was learnt that diamond jeweller Nirav Modi had fled the country, allegedly duping the Punjab National Bank of $2 billion, causing a huge uproar against the BJP-led Centre for letting the accused slip away.

In March this year, Chennai-based jewellers Kanishk Gold was quizzed by the CBI in an alleged Rs 800 crore scam. The CBI was once again acting on a complaint from SBI and a consortium of banks that had lent money to the jeweller.