The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched a massive crackdown across India on Tuesday, even as probe agencies continued to grapple with cases of banking fraud.

“In a countrywide action relating to bank fraud scams and cases, the CBI is conducting a special drive today and has begun searches at more than 50 places across 18 cities in 12 states and Union territories," a CBI spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The probe agency conducted searches across Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Thane, Valsad, Pune, Palani, Gaya, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Surat and Kolar, and made a recovery of 640 crore.

The move comes a year after the 14,356-crore scam involving Punjab National Bank became the focus of both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

More than 6,800 cases of bank fraud worth 71,500 crore have been reported in 2018-19, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

Diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have been in the eye of the PNB-scam. The CBI and the ED are now pushing for their extradition from the UK and Antigua, respectively.

The CBI, in the course of Tuesday’s crackdown, had already filed 14 cases against “various companies and firms, their promoters and directors and bank officials". The probe agency said “further details" would be furnished once it wraps up the drive.

The companies facing action following Tuesday’s searches include Mumbai-based Winsome group, which is linked to absconding diamond merchant Jatin Mehta, and Tayal group’s Eskay Knit, the Delhi-based Naftogaz and SL Consumer Products Ltd, besides Punjab-based International Mega Food Park Ltd and Supreme Tex Mart, the CBI spokesperson added.

The CBI also carried out searches on Monday across 22 locations in West Bengal, including the premises of directors and promoters of Newland Agro Industries, as part of an ongoing probe into a ponzi scam case.

The probe agency searched the residence of the managing directors and other employees of Newland Agro Industries.

The company and 11 of its officials were booked in May 2017 on the orders of the Supreme Court, which had directed the agency to probe all companies allegedly involved in the ponzi scam, which were till then being probed by a special investigation team of West Bengal.

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