Mumbai: The economic offences wing is probing a multi-crore franking scam allegedly run by a group at Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). Cops said the accused collected demand drafts (DDs) outside MbPT for stamp duty, did a fake franking of stamp duty on documents and encashed DDs worth Rs 5.47 crore in the last one year. The prime accused, Dharmesh Rasal alias Kiran Tandel, is in jail on charges of forgery and cheating. Police said Tandel used the name and photo of a man, Praful Chandorkar, to open the bank accounts.
“MbPT had appointed vendors to collect stamp duty. Their staff coordinated with customs house agents (CHA), who carried out procedures on behalf of clients. The officials collected documents from shipping agencies and asked for details on goods arriving in Mumbai. The documents were then sent for franking with the DDs,’’ an official said. The clients would then claim goods. “In most cases, the CHA would send franking papers to JNPT using a courier or his staff. In this case, the accused may have stolen DDs and deposited it in bank accounts opened in MbPT’s name.’’
Tandel had opened two accounts in banks at Govandi and Chembur in the name of Traffic Manager, MbPT, and Board of Trustees of Ports of Mumbai using fake information and a photo of Chandorkar to open both accounts,” said an investigator, adding that every day around 2,000 people would deposit DDs in favor of MBPT.
The scam came to light in May 2013 when a bank asked MbPT to verify details of an application to open an account. MbPT denied having sent the application. As many as 98 people have been arrested in the case. An official said, franking was discontinued four months ago with payments now being made online.
The Times of India, April 15,2014