The Enforcement Directorate has told the City Sessions Court in Mumbai that Peter Kerkar, promoter of travel company Cox & Kings, was the mastermind behind siphoning of funds from the company.

The investigating agency has said that Kerkar’s allegations against others including senior company executives and investors were an attempt to deflect the blame.

The ED’s observation is related to an investigation on a complaint filed by Kerkar himself. Kerkar had filed an FIR in two Mumbai police stations alleging that some of the employees of Cox & Kings got into a deal with employees of few banks to siphon off money which caused a loss of ₹5,500 crore. “In the course of the investigation, it transpired that Kerkar himself was the mastermind.” ED has told the sessions court which will hear the matter on Thursday.

Also read: Cox and Kings promoter remanded till December 3

Kerkar’s legal team vehemently opposed the allegations made by the ED as Kerkar has been falsely arrayed as accused on the basis of the statements given by the two senior executives of the company named by Kerkar in his FIR. Kerkar’s camp argued that the promoter of the travel company “has not siphoned a single pie.” and is being “falsely implicated only under pressure.”

Trouble for Kerkar and the company started when it first defaulted on loan repayments in June 2019. As of March 31, 2019, C&K India standalone balance sheet had cash balance of ₹723 crore. C&K (together with its subsidiaries) had cash balance of ₹1,830 crore. Yet it defaulted on a ₹150-crore payment in June 2019.

Kerkar has blamed Anil Khandelwal, Chief Financial Officer of the company and Naresh Jain, Internal Auditor, for the alleged creation of falsified accounts including the creation of a fake email ID of the UK auditor to fraudulently prepare accounts. Banks including YES Bank and IndusInd bank have filed a counter FIR against Kerkar.

IndusInd Bank declared the company account as fraud on December 30, 2019. The bank has also filed its claim with the Interim Resolution Professional appointed under insolvency proceedings initiated before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai.

Earlier this month, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR against Ezeego One Travel & Tours Limited, a sister company of Cox & Kings, for defrauding YES Bank over ₹900 crore. Kerkar is currently under ED’s custody.