ED seizes assets of jeweler ‘Atlas’ Ramachandran for loan fraud

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Kochi: The Enforcement Branch seized the assets of embattled jeweler MM Ramachandran, widely known as Atlas Ramachandran, in a financial fraud case. Gold, silver, diamond and bank investments worth more than Rs 57 crore were seized by the Central Financial Investigation Agency for deceiving South Indian Bank Limited almost ten years ago years.

The assets of Ramachandran, wife Indira and Atlas Jewelery Private Limited were seized by the agency. The total value of the seized assets is around Rs 57.45 crore.

Investigators had previously discovered that fake documents had been submitted in the name of M/s Atlas Jewelery to avail a loan of Rs 242 crore from the private bank’s Trichur branch.

The ED action followed a case registered by the Kerala Police.

Earlier this year, the ED had seized assets valued at Rs 26.50 after checks at jewelry showrooms in three Indian cities, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

In June 2018, Ramachandran was released from a prison in the United Arab Emirates. A court in Dubai had sentenced him to three years in prison after his checks for Dhs 3.40 crore, or about Rs 61.2 crore then, bounced. He had also failed to repay a loan of Rs 1,000 crore. Ramachandran had been in prison since August 2015.

Then-External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had intervened to demand the release of the popular jeweller. Ramachandran’s family had held talks with BJP state chairman Kummanam Rajasekharan in January to persuade the central government to intervene on the jeweler’s behalf.

Ramachandran, who hails from Thrissur, had also produced a few notable Malayalam films and even dabbled in real estate.

The Atlas Group had its first showroom in Kuwait in 1981. At one time the group had 50 showrooms in the Middle East and India with a turnover of 3.5 billion.

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