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Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday attached assets worth 172 crore of Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd, according to a tweet by ED’s official Twitter handle.

The investigating agency has launched a money laundering probe against the company and is trying to determine the money trail.

“Raids have been conducted in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Surat and Rajasthan. The money trail so far unearthed establishes that funds availed from the banks have been laundered," said an official familiar with the investigation.

In a subsequent statement, ED said:

“(Promoter) Jatin Mehta and his employee directors of Winsome Diamonds and Forever Precious Diamonds and Jewellery in criminal conspiracy with one Haytham Salman Ali Abu Obaidah, diverted the funds to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and did not repay the outstanding of 1658.08 crore to PNB (Punjab National Bank)."

Winsome Diamond and Jewellery did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Winsome Diamonds owes 4,680.04 crore to a consortium of lenders led by Standard Chartered Bank.

Winsome’s associate, Forever Precious Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd, owes another 2,121.82 crore to a consortium of banks led by Punjab National Bank. The combined dues make this one of the largest cases involving a wilful defaulter, or someone who doesn’t repay a loan despite having the ability to do so, and/or diverts the money borrowed for some other purpose.

In its statement, the ED said the company and its promoter borrowed money from a consortium of banks led by Standard Chartered Bank and PNB and used this to export diamond and gold jewellery to 13 foreign companies in UAE, represented and controlled by Obaidah.

The 13 companies failed to remit the money towards the realization of exports and, consequently, Winsome could not make payments to the banks.

ED said the amount involved in such exports is around $1.3 billion.

Other banks that have an exposure to Winsome Diamonds include State Bank of Mauritius Ltd, Export-Import Bank of India, Canara Bank and Axis Bank Ltd.

ED’s move against Winsome comes against the backdrop of attempts to get tough on wilful defaulters.

The number of wilful defaulters rose to 7,129 as of December 2015, from 6,458 in June that year, according to information available with Credit Information Bureau of India Ltd (Cibil), Mint reported on 12 April.

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