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Mumbai court stays proceedings against Mehul Choksi in Rs 22.5 crore bank fraud case | India News – Times of India

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MUMBAI: A special trial court in Mumbai on Wednesday stayed proceedings before a magistrate in a Rs 22.5 crore bank fraud case filed by Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) Ltd against Gitanjali Gems Ltd (GGL) of which Mehul Choksi was a director. The order came in a revision application filed by one of the co-accused Vipul Chitalia.The IFCI had filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Banking Securities Fraud Branch, Mumbai, alleging that Choksi approached IFCI seeking financial assistance of Rs 25 crore, for which he pledged jewels worth double the loan amount after due valuation by government-approved valuers. When GGL started committing defaults in its repayment, the IFCI, in order to realise the security, conducted fresh valuation of the pledged jewels. It showed valuation of the pledged jewels had allegedly dropped by 98%. The IFCI alleged that Choksi colluded with the valuers and got the valuation inflated, further adding that the diamonds pledged were low quality lab-made chemical vapour stones and other inferior coloured stones, not the real ones, thus leading to a wrongful loss of over Rs 22 crore.The CBI had on April 30, 2022, lodged an FIR on the charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.On March 2, 2023, the CBI filed its charge sheet before an additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACCM) at Esplanade court in Mumbai alleging cheating and criminal conspiracy against eight accused, including GGL and Choksi, on which the ACMM took cognisance.Chitalia then approached the sessions court with a review plea and his lawyers Vijay Aggarwal and Abhiraj Ray argued that the magistrate had given no reasons but had in a mechanical manner, without explaining the role of the accused taken cognisance of a 11,000 page charge sheet, “at lightning speed”.The lawyer said mandatory Section 65B certificates to prove authenticity of digital records were not produced raising questions of admissibility of evidence.The plea was that it was only due to the initiation of insolvency proceeding against GGL, that the brand value had fallen and eventually that of the gems pledged with the IFCI.The special court noted that the magistrate prima facie appears not to have passed a reasoned order while issuing summons to all eight accused. “Prima facie’’ the magistrates’s order does not reflect that any opinion was formed on the basis of the content of the charge sheet while taking cognisance, said the sessions court in its April 26 order, and thus “in view of this prima facie error” further proceedings before the ACMM Esplanade court are stayed till next date and adjourned matter to July 7.


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