CMRL-Exalogic deal: PwC, Lavalin made multiple deposits in overseas account

Exalogic office in Bengaluru. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is currently delving into a foreign bank account as part of its inquiry into financial transactions linked to Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL), based in Kochi.

The investigation expanded its scope to include an Abu Dhabi-based bank account following indications that two foreign companies had made substantial deposits of Rs 3 crore each in this account. Central agencies have been closely monitoring this bank account.

According to SFIO findings, global consultancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin made multiple deposits into the Abu Dhabi account between 2016 and 2019. The account is associated with a company registered in Dubai, managed by two individuals from Kerala.

In a related development, the Enforcement Directorate in Kochi had received information about these money transfers about a year ago during its investigation into KIIFB's masala bonds, which allegedly violated the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Former Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac filed a petition with the high court seeking to prevent the disclosure of asset and bank details of individuals not directly connected to KIIFB, citing privacy concerns. However, Isaac did not disclose the identities of the individuals or their family members whose details he sought to protect, raising questions about transparency in the case.

It has been alleged that CMRL made payments to Exalogic, a company owned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter, without receiving any services in return.

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