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Indian authorities question Rotomac Global owner in loan default case

Indian authorities are investigating Rotomac Global Pvt. Ltd. owner Vikram Kothari and his son for allegedly defaulting on loans worth 36.95 billion rupees from seven banks, Mint reported Feb. 21, citing officials.

Rotomac, an India-based pen manufacturer, is said to have taken loans from Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Overseas Bank, Union Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce. The company's directors, Kothari, his wife Sadhana and son Rahul allegedly diverted the bank loans towards purposes other than they were meant for, officials said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, filed a formal complaint against the company and its promoters Feb. 18 after Bank of Baroda contacted the bureau and expressed concerns that Kothari might leave the country. The amount allegedly siphoned off from bank loans was initially thought to be 8 billion rupees until the CBI later found the amount to be closer to 29.19 billion rupees, excluding interest.

Bank of Baroda has an exposure of 4.57 billion rupees in Rotomac Global, according to a Feb. 20 stock exchange filing. The bank said it had declared the Rotomac account a nonperforming asset in October 2015.

Meanwhile, the country's Enforcement Directorate has slapped criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against the company and its promoters and has notified seaports, airports and other possible exit points in India to prevent Kothari and his relatives from leaving the country.

The case comes on the heels of a similar fraud committed at Punjab National Bank, where fraudulent transactions amounting to 114 billion rupees were uncovered by the bank.

As of Feb. 21, US$1 was equivalent to 64.81 Indian rupees.