The CBI on Friday carried out searches at 16 locations in Ahmedabad after booking 12 people, including Axis bank employees, for alleged illegal cash deposits of around Rs 100 crore post demonetisation.
The cash deposits of Rs 100.57 crore in purported shell companies' accounts in Axis Bank's Memnagar branch in Ahmedabad were in violation of RBI notifications issued after November 8 last year, when the government, in a sudden move, scrapped Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.
The CBI has booked branch manager Yasha Mehta, operations head Ahbhimanyu Singh Naruka and customers' relations officer Rita Kumar and nine others, including the cash handlers.
The agency teams swooped down on 16 locations in Ahmedabad at offices and residences of the accused.
There were three groups of cash handlers who were depositing demonetised Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes in the accounts of purported shell companies at the bank, CBI sources said.
CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said the notes were allegedly being deposited by a group of people in name lending accounts with the help of the branch manager and other bank officials.
The first group was Sanjay Manu Soni, Saurin Soni and Sameer, the second was Himanshu Agarwal, Jaideep, J D Shroff and Afzal and the third was Kiran Parekh and Hitesh Parekh, he said.
The bank officials allegedly abused their position by allowing huge amount of unauthorised transactions in accounts of shell companies between November and December last year, he said.
Owners of the so-called shell companies as well as those who were used for depositing the huge amount of cash in the said accounts were people of no-means and whose profile was non-commensurate with the quantum of such huge suspicious deposits, the FIR said.
The accused were creating such accounts for "lending" purposes for depositing cash on commission basis and converting black money into white, they said, adding huge cash deposits were made in the bank several times during a day by one person.
It is alleged that the first group of cash handlers deposited Rs. 55.70 crore, the second group deposited Rs. 41.62 crore and third group Rs. 3.25 crore, they said.
"At many such instances, they deposited huge amount of cash by way of submitting multiple deposit slips in one go, with cash value of less than Rs. nine lakh, per slip, as per the advise of the bank officials," Gaur said.
"It was also alleged that cash deposit slips of approximately Rs. 13 crore are not available with the bank," he said.
These suspicious deposits were transferred to bullion traders and jewellers by way of RTGS, sources said, adding these bullion traders and jewellers will soon be called for questioning.
The RBI guidelines issued after November 8, mandated that cash could have been deposited either by the account holder or their authorised representatives on production of suitable identity document.
"...in the above cases, a majority of the pay in slips bear forged signatures of the account holders, which were ignored by bank officials," Gaur said.
He said the accused in active connivance with the bank officials had failed to disclose their unaccounted wealth, in accordance with the amnesty schemes declared by the government and has converted black money into white by misusing the banking channels.