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CBI hunt for Mr Sudheer Sriram a bizman from Bengaluru

Metal News - Published on Tue, 13 Feb 2018

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Bangalore Mirror reported that Sudheer Sriram’s anticipatory bail hearing is coming up this week; the businessman is being hunted by the enforcement agencies in a 1,208 crore fraud. In 2008, Busan Port in South Korea and Hai Phong Port in Vietnam received 885 containers of, what was meant to be, high-value copper and nickel scrap metal. Later, however, they turned out to be nothing more than cheap iron scrap from automobile junkyards. The Central Bureau of Investigation believes it to be an elaborate scam designed by Sudheer Sriram, a 45 year-old, Bengaluru based businessman, and his associates (including a group of government officials). The scam had cost the public exchequer INR 1,208.48 crore (then USD 250 million).

International agencies, including the Interpol along with the CBI, have been on his trail but Sriram has managed to stay one step ahead of them. The complex case which involves multiple countries, shell companies, and nationalised banks, and the CBI’s so far failed attempt at bringing Sriram back to India bears an uncanny similarity with liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s.

Almost a decade later now, however, the central agency has a glimmer of hope, courtesy his expired original passport. Initially, he filed a writ petition seeking the union government, external affairs ministry and the CBI to permit him access to his impounded passport for travel and renewal. It was rejected in December.

Mr Sriram approached the Sessions Court for anticipatory bail but it was dismissed on January 31, which forced him to go to the High Court with a fresh bail plea on February 7.

Mr Sriram has claimed that he was based in Dubai for more than a decade and was one of the directors of Future Metals Pvt Ltd and Future Exim India Pvt Ltd, and was connected with the global associates of these firms that deal with Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, minerals, Agro products, coal and other consumer products. Both companies had registered offices at Barton Centre on MG Road here; they have now moved out and a realty firm operates from that address.

In 2008, FMPL and FEIPL became business associates of Spices Trading Corporation Ltd of India, to trade in high value non-ferrous scrap, mainly copper and nickel. STCL, a subsidiary of State Trading Corporation of India, started dealing in metal scrap import in 2004.

These firms were responsible for the purchase and import of copper and nickel from at least five companies based in Hong Kong, New Jersey, Singapore, South Korea and the UAE for USD 250 million. STCL facilitated 134 Letters of Credit for these transactions through various nationalised bank branches with a validity of 90 to 120 days which became overdue.

When the consignments were inspected in March 2009, it was found that it had cheap iron scrap. Subsequent probe revealed that all companies with which STCL dealt with through FMPL and FEIPL were connected with Sriram, his family or associates. Initially, a case of criminal breach of trust, cheating, conspiracy and fraud was registered against them, including Sriram and then Managing Director of STCL KC Ponnanna. FMPL and FEIPL were associated with STCL since 2005 and as per their agreement were responsible for all risks involved.

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Posted By : Amom Remju on Tue, 13 Feb 2018
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