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HC steps in to ensure $5,00,000 mistakenly transferred is returned to international bank

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has stepped in to ensure that an amount of $5,00,000 that was inadvertently credited to an account operated by two Mumbai-based businessmen 16 years ago, is finally returned to the bank.

An international bank had mistakenly transferred the sum into the account of Sharad Agarwal and Atit Agarwal.
In an order passed on August 4 this year, Justice Suresh Gupte held that it was clear that the amount had been credited accidentally, and restrained the businessmen from selling off their assets or creating any third party rights on all immovable properties that they own in India.
The directions came on a suit filed by the bank, BNP Paribas, against the Agarwals. As per the suit, In November 1999, the two businessmen opened a Swiss bank account with BNP Paribas. In September 2001, the bank mistakenly credited an amount of $5,00,000 to this account.
The Agarwals realised the bank's mistake and promptly emptied their account. In 2003, the bank's auditors realised the mistake and directed the two men to return the money.
When they refused to do so, the bank sent them a legal notice and registered a criminal complaint against them in Geneva.
The Agarwals, however, failed to respond to the summons sent to them by the Swiss authorities. And in 2008, a Geneva court ordered that the duo return $5,00,000 in question, pay an interest of five per cent on the amount, and that they also pay an additional $39,000 as the legal fees incurred by the authorities.
When the duo failed to follow the court's order, the bank filed a suit in the Bombay High Court. The bank sought that the duo be directed to act in accordance with the Swiss court order. It also sought that till the final hearing of the suit in the Bombay HC was completed, they be restrained from selling or disposing of their assets and properties to ensure that they do not shift their assets out of the country and evade payment to the bank.
Sharad and Atit Agarwal in turn challenged the suit on the ground that while they were based in Mumbai for business purposes, they were citizens of Caribbean nations Belize and Grenada, respectively.

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