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Thane: CA granted anticipatory bail amid allegations of massive fund transfer

Updated on: 05 March,2024 07:10 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Lack of evidence leads to bail with stringent conditions in high-profile case

Thane: CA granted anticipatory bail amid allegations of massive fund transfer

Seeking relief, the CA approached the sessions court, Thane, for anticipatory bail. Representation Pic

The additional sessions judge, Thane recently granted anticipatory bail to a chartered accountant accused by the Thane cyber police of aiding those arrested in a payment gateway fraud case exceeding Rs 16,180 crore. The prosecution asserts that the co-accused, through employees, obtained a certificate under section 15-CA/CB (this certificate is required for payments made to non-residents, not being a company, or to a foreign company which are taxable and if the payment exceeds Rs 5 Lakh during the financial year) from the CA, who allegedly forwarded it to other chartered accountants without proper verification.

These accountants then prepared 15CB certificates, facilitating the transfer of a substantial amount to foreign countries like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore. The defence advocate challenged the prosecution's claims during the argument, leading to the court granting anticipatory bail. Additionally, the defence strongly criticised the investigating police for allegedly harassing innocent professionals and labeled their actions as a misuse of power.

Arrest apprehension

The charges include offences under Sections 420, 409, 467, 468, 120B, 34 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 66(C) and 66(D) of the Information Technology Act. Seeking relief, the applicant approached the sessions court, Thane, for anticipatory bail.

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Adv Dinesh Tiwari, criminal lawyer
Adv Dinesh Tiwari, criminal lawyer

The crime branch in Thane investigated a case registered by the manager of M/s Payget India Private Limited at Shrinagar Police Station. The complaint alleged a hacking incident where Rs 2.5 crore was fraudulently transferred. A case was filed, leading to the arrest of multiple accused, including a chartered accountant from Navi Mumbai. During the investigation, the police discovered statements of accounts from 241 out of 260 bank accounts, revealing transactions amounting to Rs 16,180 crore. The funds were sent to foreign countries, leading to the arrest of 11 individuals, including the chartered accountant.

The police claim that the investigation unveiled a pattern where co-accused, through their employees, obtained certificates under section 15-CA/CB of the Income Tax Act via the anticipatory bail applicant, who forwarded them without proper verification. Subsequently, other chartered accountants prepared 15CB certificates, facilitating the transfer of a substantial amount of money abroad.

Did not make the certificate

Defence advocate Dinesh Tiwari argued that the applicant, a practicing CA, hasn't committed any offence. No allegations of preparing certificates exist; she forwarded proposals to other chartered accountants. Custodial interrogation is unnecessary, and she's cooperative.

Misuse of power: False case

“It is ironic that police harass innocent professionals by foisting false cases on them. In fact, in this case, the lady CA, should not have been required to approach the court of law for the relief of anticipatory bail, as there is no material with the police to connect her with the crime. It is a classic case of misuse of power. This lady has gone through so much harassment due to this false case, that it has disturbed her daily routine,” said Advocate Tiwari.

Prosecution opposes bail

Prosecutor R G Kshirsagar and investigating officer Satishchandra Rathod opposed the anticipatory application, claiming the applicant forwarded documents without verification to other chartered accountants for 15 CB certificates. She prepared one for a co-accused, and 636 bank accounts were forged. Large sums were sent to Hong Kong, China, and Singapore based on false documents, constituting a significant fraud impacting the country's financial stability. They urged the rejection of the anticipatory application.

Court observation

A N Sirsikar, additional sessions judge, Thane, stated, I have heard advocate for the applicant at length and also considered the submissions of learned assistant public prosecutor and the investigating officer. ‘Admittedly, the applicant is practicing as a CA   Some allegations co-accused approached her for 15CB certificate required for remitting the amount overseas. There are no specific allegations that applicants prepared the 15CB certificate based on false and fabricated documents supplied by the co-accused and others. Her name does not appear in the FIR. The name of the applicant was revealed subsequently during the investigation.

The court noted that Form No.15 CB presented by the applicant indicates CAs verify documents for tax deduction rates. No allegations exist that the applicant failed to verify or issue certificates. Other CAs who issued certificates were arrested but granted bail. Given the nature of the applicant's role, custodial interrogation isn't deemed necessary. The court suggests granting bail with appropriate conditions, as the applicant is willing to cooperate with the investigating officer.

Court order

If the applicant is arrested, she is to be released on anticipatory bail upon executing a P R Bond of Rs 50,000 with a surety of the same amount. The conditions include: a) refraining from inducing, threatening, or promising anyone connected to the case to withhold facts; b) not leaving India without the Court's prior permission; and c) attending the investigation officer's office once a week, preferably on Wednesdays between 10 am to 11 am until March 20 or the filing of the charge-sheet, whichever comes first.

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