Gujarat-Based ABG Shipyard ‘Defrauded’ 28 Banks of Rs 22,842 Cr

In the biggest bank fraud in the past 75 years, totalling Rs 22,842 crore in India, public sector State Bank of India (SBI) has refuted allegations of delay in filing the complaint against Gujarat-based ABG Shipyard with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The CBI had filed a case against ABG Shipyard, the flagship company of the ABG Group which builds and repairs ships in Dahej and Surat, and its directors Rishi Agarwal, Santhanam Muthuswamy and Ashwini Kumar on Saturday for allegedly defrauding 28 banks of Rs 22,842 crore.

In a statement issued on Sunday, SBI said that it had filed a complaint against ABG Shipyard with the CBI way back on November 8, 2019. on March 12, 2020, the bank filed a second complaint in August that year. According to the CBI, the agency acted on the complaint after “scrutinising” it for more than one-and-a-half years by filing an FIR on February 7. SBI issued the statement after All India Congress Committee general secretary Randeep Surjewala accused the Narendra Modi government of running a “loot and escape” flagship scheme for bank fraudsters.

SBI said that after the company was “financed under consortium arrangement with over two dozen lenders led by ICICI Bank”, the “account became a non-performing asset (NPA) in November 2013 due to poor performance”. As per the country’s largest public-sector lender, the “account was classified as NPA in July 2016 with effect from November 2013” as restructuring failed.

— source | 14 Feb 2022

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Ration racket: 1,100 fingerprint casts found

In their investigation into stealing of food grains from the public distribution system by fair price shop owners, the cybercrime cell of Ahmedabad police has found more than 1,100 casts of beneficiary fingerprints made on some silicone-like material. The modus operandi used by the racketeers is shocking as a fingerprint cast can be used to endorse any document, open locked apps and mobile phones and bypass bio-metric barriers that depend solely on fingerprints.

In pursuit of the trail they have been following since December 2019, police have till date arrested 40 persons, with the last six arrested since Monday, January 3, said Rajdeepsinh Zala, DCP, cybercell. The mastermind behind the racket, Bharat Chaudhary of Banaskantha, had been arrested last December.

Sources said Chaudhary and his gang held soft copies and associated data of nearly 2,500 fingerprints.

Corrupted fair price shop owners used to provide the fingerprints and data to Chaudhary, who used to take Rs 1,000 to prepare each fingerprint cast from scans. The fingerprint casts were then used to imprint fingerprints of poor people and siphon off their ration from the public distribution system. The food grains and other material were then sold in

— source | Sarfaraz Shaikh | Feb 6, 2020

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Journalists Investigating Financial Crimes Threatened by Global Elites

In November 2020 the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) released “Unsafe for Scrutiny,” a report about the threats faced by journalists investigating the financial misconduct that lets ‘dirty money’ flow through the world’s most powerful banks. As Spencer Woodman detailed in an article for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the report reveals that global elites have been abusing their intimidating legal and financial powers by targeting reporters with defamation lawsuits, “cease and desist” letters, social media smear campaigns, trolling, verbal harassment, and even occasionally physical violence. Yet, as Woodman underscored, the report concluded that legal threats “are chief among the types of harassment facing journalists conducting financial investigations.” The harassment faced by investigative journalists looking into financial crimes has a chilling effect on reporting about corruption and, ultimately, infringes the public’s right to know about the money laundering, bribery, theft of public funds, and other illicit acts carried out (or facilitated) by wealthy banks, government officials, and corporate leaders.

Sponsored in part by the Justice for Journalists Foundation, the FPC’s study was based on a survey of investigative reporters from all around the world, many of whom had worked on cross-border financial crime investigations such as the multi-year investigations into the financial records leaked in the Panama Papers or the FinCEN Files. Responses from 63 investigative journalists working in 41 countries indicated that a vast majority had faced threats and harassment during their investigations into financial crimes. Susan Coughtrie, project director at the Foreign Policy Centre, told Woodman that the large-scale transnational investigations conducted by these reporters exposed “explosive insights into how political and business elites, as well as organised crime groups, all over the world get away with financial crime and corruption.”

The report found that wealthy individuals and corporations involved in financial corruption often resort to legal action against underfunded investigative journalists as a tactic to thwart their research into corruption. These frivolous suits, known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs, are said to “create a similar chilling

— source | | Nov 9, 2021

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Man in Jind, fingerprint used in Delhi, Bihar to withdraw money

On November 14, 2018, 40-year-old Vikram got a message that Rs 1,000 had been withdrawn from his Punjab National Bank account from an SBI micro ATM in Delhi using biometric (fingerprint) verification. At that time he was in Jind taking care of his younger daughter who had been admitted to a private hospital.

The message baffled him even more as he earned his livelihood generating Aadhaar IDs for people in his village and thus knew the improbability of such a transaction.

On November 20, someone again withdrew Rs 7,500 from his HDFC account using his fingerprints at a micro ATM in Madhubani, Bihar. He wondered if someone had somehow managed to obtain his fingerprints and make a silicon copy of it as he had heard of some students doing so to send imposters in their place to take entrance tests where biometrics were used.

— source | Jan 29, 2019

After this, Vikram complained to the officials and got his biometrics locked.

Almost $500bn ‘lost to tax abuse by firms and super-rich in 2021’

Countries are losing almost half a trillion dollars through tax abuse by multinationals and the super-rich, enough to fully vaccinate the global population against Covid-19 three times over, a report has said.

Research by tax campaigners found that estimated losses had risen from $427bn last year to $483bn (£359bn) in 2021, with the UK alone responsible for almost 40% of the total.

Britain facilitates abuse and evasion through a network made up of British overseas territories and the City of London, the report said.

The State of Tax Justice 2021 – jointly published by the Tax Justice Network (TJN), the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and the global union federation Public Services International – said $312bn of the total sum was the result of cross-border corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations and $171bn offshore tax evasion by wealthy individuals.

The report said the total was calculated based on data self-reported by multinational

— source | Larry Elliott | 16 Nov 2021

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Can You Destroy $20 Billion in Wealth Without Committing a Crime?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into Archegos Capital’s Bill Hwang and the margin call trades that led to a $20 billion liquidation of his family office, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The investigation is “routine” following such a high-profile market event, and the probe may not lead to allegations of wrongdoing. Archegos Capital was hit with several margin calls last week that it was unable to meet, prompting several banks that had prime brokerage relationships with the family to liquidate its stock positions in names like ViacomCBS, Baid, and Tencent Music Entertainment, among others. The trades led to extreme volatility in a handful of stocks on Friday, with ViacomCBS and Discovery notching their biggest daily declines on record.

Banks like Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo managed to escape potential losses by quickly liquidating their exposure to Archegos, but others, like Nomura and Credit Suisse, are facing billions in potential losses from the trades, and of course, there’s all kinds of ordinary people’s money that is tied up in all of this as well.

Bill Black

— source | Apr 5, 2021

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Top 1% Dodge $163 Billion in Taxes Each Year

A Treasury Department report released Wednesday estimates that the richest 1% of Americans are responsible for more than $160 billion in unpaid taxes per year, a finding that comes as Democratic lawmakers are working to bolster IRS enforcement capacity in their emerging reconciliation package. Each year, according to the Treasury analysis, the top 1% of earners in the U.S. don’t pay $163 billion in taxes they owe by law. The bottom 10% of earners, by contrast, account for less than $3 billion in unpaid taxes annually. Persistent tax dodging by the wealthiest people in the country has resulted in a staggering $7 trillion “tax gap”—the difference between taxes owed and taxes the federal government actually collects. The sheer magnitude of lost revenue is striking: it is equal to 3% of GDP, or all the income taxes paid by the lowest earning 90% of taxpayers.

— source | Sep 9, 2021

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How Unemployment Insurance Fraud Exploded During the Pandemic

A Bronx man allegedly received $1.5 million in just ten months. A California real estate broker raked in more than $500,000 within half a year. A Nigerian government official is accused of pocketing over $350,000 in less than six weeks.

What they all had in common, according to federal prosecutors, was participation in what may turn out to be the biggest fraud wave in U.S. history: filing bogus claims for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. (The broker has pleaded guilty, while the Bronx man and Nigerian official have pleaded not guilty.)

Fraudsters have filed in high volumes, sometimes obtaining payments from multiple states, despite the fact that a jobless person is barred from getting assistance in more than one state. One person, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, used a single Social Security number to file unemployment insurance claims in 40 states. Twenty-nine states paid up, sending $222,532.

But the problem extends far beyond a plague of solo scammers. A ProPublica investigation reveals that much of the fraud has been organized — both in the U.S. and abroad.

— source | Cezary Podkul | Aug 2, 2021

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