The Nirav Modi Scam
India's second largest state-owned lender Punjab National Bank disclosed on 14 February that it was the victim of the country’s largest bank fraud. PNB revealed that fraudulent transactions by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and related entities amounted to $1.77 billion (or over Rs 11,000 crore).
In a complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the bank said that Modi and the companies linked to him colluded with its officials to get guarantees or Letters of Undertaking to help fund buyer’s credit from other overseas banks. The funds, ostensibly raised for the purchase and sale of diamonds, were not used for that purpose, PNB alleged.
Later, it was revealed that the fraud extended past PNB to other lenders like State Bank of India, Union Bank, Axis Bank and Allahabad Bank.
Modi, as it turned out, left the country on 1 January. The CBI has approached the Interpol for help in locating Modi and his family. The agency has also registered a fresh FIR against Mehul Choksi, Modi's maternal uncle and the promoter of Gitanjali Group, who is also named in the fraud.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
CBI Seals Brady House Branch in Mumbai
The CBI, on 19 February, sealed the Brady House Branch of the Punjab National Bank as multiple probe agencies continued with their probe into the Rs 11,515 crore fraud, according to officials.
The CBI pasted an official notice outside the branch in Fort – the bank's flagship lending window in Mumbai and its second largest national outlet. The CBI has said that entry into the premises will only be granted with prior permission of the CBI, the CBI Special Court or the CBI Competent Authority.
All operations at the Brady House Branch came to a grinding halt and several bewildered staffers were seen waiting outside for further orders from their bosses.
Gitanjali CFO Steps Down
According to BloombergQuint, Chief Financial Officer of Gitanjali Group, Chandrakant Karkare, stepped down from his position on Monday, 19 February. Compliance and Company Secretary Pankhuri Warange followed suit, citing ethical issues.
On 18 February, the CBI had set up a team to examine balance sheets and electronic data of Gitanjali group of companies and its India-based 18 subsidiaries headed by Mehul Choksi who is accused along with diamond merchant Nirav Modi in the multi-crore PNB fraud.
A top rank official as well as a member of the executive board of Gitanjali Gems have quit along with Karkare, the Times of India reported. Vice President, Compliance and Company Secretary Pankhuri Warange and board member Krishnan Sangameswaran have decided to step down with immediate effect, Gitanjali Gems said in a notification.
Warange has said that her "conscience" doesn't permit her to continue after "the recent event unfolded" while Sangameswaran’s reason for resigning is not known.
CVC Interrogates PNB Officials, Meets With CBI
On Monday, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) interrogated officials from PNB and the Finance Ministry over the mammoth Nirav Modi fraud at its Delhi office. The CVC asked the officials to submit a report within 10 days on how the scam took place, despite monetary regulations being in place. In addition, the CVC asked for names of officials who were involved, and sought identification of officials who could have taken action and prevented it.
According to media reports, RBI officials were also part of the meeting. A presentation, lasting almost two hours, was jointly given by the three bodies to the CVC.
After the meeting with PNB and Finance Ministry officials, the CVC met with CBI officials. The CBI purportedly told the CVC that it was a system failure at multiple levels.
"Where is the Country's Custodian", Questions Rahul Gandhi
Launching a fresh attack against the Modi government over the Nirav Modi scam, Congress President Rahul Gandhi yet again questioned the Prime Minister’s silence.
पहले ललित फिर माल्या— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 19, 2018
अब नीरव भी हुआ फरार
कहाँ है 'न खाऊँगा, न खाने दूँगा' कहने वाला देश का चौकीदार?
साहेब की खामोशी का राज़ जानने को जनता बेकरार
उनकी चुप्पी चीख चीख कर बताए
वो किसके हैं वफादार#ModiRobsIndia
After chairing the first meeting of the party's Steering Committee, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had on Saturday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s silence on the Nirav Modi fraud case.
CBI Questions Nirav Modi’s CFO Vipul Ambani
The Central Bureau of Investigation is questioning Vipul Ambani, the chief financial officer of diamantaire Nirav Modi’s Firestar Diamond company, officials said today.
Vipul Ambani was holding the position for the last three to four years. He is understood to be a relative of late Dhirubhai Ambani, officials added.
CBI Probe Reveals PNB Staff Took Commissions, Shared Passwords
Intensive interrogation by the CBI on Sunday resulted in officials from Punjab National Bank confessing to having taken percentage commissions in lieu of issuing letters of undertaking and foreign letters of credit.
According to CBI sources, the arrested bank officials during interrogation disclosed that for every LoU, a percentage of the amount was fixed depending upon the amount to be sanctioned. The commission collected from the client was then distributed between all employees of PNB involved in the scam, the sources said.
Further, CBI reports state that arrested bank official Gokulnath Shetty issued a series of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to other banks using the PNB's SWIFT system.
Shetty would log in with passwords that allowed him, and in at least some instances a more junior official, to serve as both the person who sent messages and as the person who reviewed them for approval.
Petition Filed in SC Seeking SIT Probe
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking a probe into the PNB fraud case.
The petitioner, Vaibhav Khuraniya, who is also an investor in Gitanjali, said that the company had duped him off his stock by selling it for Rs 80 lakh.
"We had invested in Gitanjali and met Mehul Choksi in the process. We opened a store, within 1-2 months we realised that the company is in bad shape. Our store was shut down within 3-4 months. The company duped us and stole our stock worth Rs 80 Lakh. "
Khuraniya said that though they had compnained to the the police, nothing had happened. Subsequently, he appraoched the High Court, following which an FIR was lodged.
"Amidst all this he filed notice in High Court to quash the FIR. So he was provided an interim protection and fled."
Stating that the ordeal began in 2013, Khuraniya lamented that the investigating agencies should have been more alert.
"We had informed CBI, SEBI, EOW, ED, had they been alert on time he wouldn’t have escaped. However we had this intuition that he is bribing his way out & matter isn’t reaching to higher authority."
Shiv Sena Alleges Nirav Modi Funded BJP's PollCampaigns
The Shiv Sena on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the multi-crore-rupee Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam and alleged that diamond czar Nirav Modi, who is at the centre of the scandal, had been a "partner" of the BJP and helped it collect funds for elections.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said Modi's promise of putting an end to corruption in the country, highlighted through his slogan "na khaunga, na khane dunga", was in tatters after the alleged fraudulent transactions of Rs 11,400 crore at the nationalised bank came to light.
"Nirav Modi has been a partner of the BJP and was at the forefront in helping the BJP collect funds for elections," the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece "Saamana".
The Sena organ also said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) swung into action and sealed Nirav Modi's properties only after the billionaire jewellery designer had left the country.
While politicians like Chhagan Bhujbal and Lalu Prasad Yadav were behind bars in corruption cases, liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi fled the country from right under the nose of the government, the Marathi daily added.
"The talks of a corruption-free India and transparent government have been laid bare in just three years. Farmers are committing suicide as they cannot repay their debts of Rs 100-Rs 500, but here people have absconded (after swindling) lakhs of crores." - Saamana, Shiv Sena Mouthpiece
The Sena added that the NDA government was being run on advertisements, on which thousands of crores were being spent.
As the probe in the alleged Rs 11,300 crore intensified, raids continued at various locations across the country. According to ANI, ED conducted raids in Lucknow, Noida, Ghaziabad and Muzaffarpur at Gitanjali and Nakshatra showrooms.
According to ED sources, assets worth Rs 5716 Crore have been seized in the raids till now. 39 raids were conducted today, out of which 10 were in Mumbai.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) searched Nirav Modi’s Samudra Mahal bungalow in Worli, Mumbai. Official sources said that ED sleuths arrived at Modi's Samudra Mahal bungalow in Worli and searched the premises.
According to later reports, searches began at Nirav Modi’s office in Peninsula Business Park, Lower Parel on Monday night.
Former Gitanjali Employee Observed Discrepancies in Gitanjali Financials in 2012-13
A former employee of Gitanjali Chairman and Managing Director Mehul Choksi has alleged that he was "shut up" when he tried to raise a flag.
"Around 2012-13 I observed there were huge discrepancies in the books of accounts and physical things. I raised these with Mehul Choksi, but I was told to shut up and do my job. In fact, the language was, 'Tu apna kaam kar, salary le aur nikal'", Santosh Srivastava, a former employee of Choksi, told ANI.
PNB's Brady House Branch in Mumbai No Longer Sealed
The CBI clarified on Monday that Punjab National Bank's Mid Corporate Branch, Brady House, Fort, Mumbai was secured with a seal briefly during wee hours so as to prevent any inadvertent or unauthorised opening by concerned PNB staff. But the sealing was "time-bound" – and has now been lifted.
"It will not affect regular business of the branch since today is a local holiday (Shivaji Jayanti) in Maharashtra", the CBI said.
No Response on Summons Sent to Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi
According to ANI, there has been no response on the summons sent to Nirav Modi or the other accused so far. It is also being investigated as to why Gokulnath Shetty was not promoted in all these years. The first LoU was issued in March 2011 and was rolled over, sources from ED said.
In another development, around 13 PNB officials including the then GM level officers – including four employees who worked with the Nirav Modi group – were questioned by the CBI on Monday.
Ravi Gupta (CFO, Nirav group), Vipul Ambani (VP Nirav goup) , Saurabh Sharma (International President, Firestar Diamond), Subhash Parab (Senior Executive, finance) including other senior executives of Finance department of Nirav Modi are the ones being questioned by CBI.
IT Department Seizes 7 More Gitanjali Group Properties
The IT department on Monday seized 7 more properties of Gitanjali Group. Out of the 7 properties, 4 properties are registered in the name of Gitanjali Gems, 2 belong to Mehul Choksi and one is registered in Gili India's name. All of these properties are located in Mumbai, according to sources in the IT department.
CBI Seizes 10 Computers, Files and Documents from PNB Brady House Branch
A CBI team raided the Brady House branch of the Punjab National Bank in Mumbai on Monday.
The CBI team seized 10 computers, files and documents in the raid from Punjab National Banks's MCB Brady House branch.
Three PNB Brady House Officials Arrested, CBI Searches Residences
Three officers of the Punjab National Bank's MCB Brady House branch in Mumbai have been arrested.
Bechhu Tiwari, Chief Manager in charge of Forex department, Yashwant Joshi, Scale II Manager of the Forex department and Praful Sawant, Scale I Officer, Export are the three arrested on Monday.
Bechhu Tiwari is responsible for supervising the work of Gokulnath Shetty and his manager to ensure entry of authorised swift messages only from the system. Tiwari had full knowledge of Gokulnath Shetty’s activities. Yashwant Joshi was responsible for supervising Gokulnath Shetty and ensure daily reports of swift and CBS entries. He also had full knowledge of the activities of Gokulnath Shetty but took no action. Praful Sawant is responsible for checking the SWIFT messages daily and report.
According to ANI, the CBI has began searches at the residences of the three arrested officers in Navi Mumbai, Andheri and Dombivili.
BJP MP Targets Rahul Gandhi Over Tweet
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan hit out at Rahul Gandhi’s “where is the country’s custodian?” tweet, stating that the Congress President had no right to speak about the PNB scam.
"Rahul Gandhi has no right to comment about this. The government is laying a trap. Just like this PNB scam was caught, his brother-in-law will also get caught. Who knows? Maybe his mother will also be summoned. " - Brij Bhushan Sharan, BJP MP
PNB Scam Triggers Mass Exodus of Gitanjali Gems' Top-Level Employees
The PNB scam has triggered a top level exodus at Gitanjali Gems, with board member S Krishnan saying that there was no one to even organise a board meeting to clarify the issues surrounding the purported fraud, PTI reported.
While compliance officer Pankhuri Warange said there is a “sense of fear and uncertainty” among the employees in the company and there is an “absolute cluelessness” from the senior management, forcing her to quit.
She also cited the resignation of chief financial officer Chandrakant karkare and others from the company.
In the regulatory filings, Warange also mentioned that the board meeting and quarterly results disclosure, which was scheduled on 14 February, had to be postponed as there was "no guideline" from the senior management.
'My Son Being Victimised,' Says Manoj Kharat's Father
Hanumant Kharat, the father of Manoj Kharat, the former single window operator who was arrested by the CBI in connection with the PNB fraud, has said that his son is being victimised by the bank, ANI reported.
"The entire banking system is faulty. My son has been victimised by the bank. What was his authority? Injustice has been done with my son. My son’s payment is just Rs 23,000. How can a clerk be given authority of an amount of crores?" - Hanumant Kharat, Manoj Kharat’s father
Nirav Modi Allegedly Pens Letter to PNB Over Scam
Throwing up his hands, beleaguered businessman Nirav Modi, the alleged kingpin of the largest banking scam in the country's history, has supposedly said PNB's ‘over-zealousness' shut the doors on his ability to clear the dues.
He also said the dues were much less than what the bank has claimed, and that his relatives booked in the cases filed by the central agencies had nothing to do with the operations of the firms under their scanner.
In a ‘letter’ Modi wrote on February 15/16 to the Punjab National Bank management, a copy of which PTI has seen, he pegged the money his companies owe to the bank under Rs 5,000 crore. The authenticity of this letter is however, yet to be verified.
"The erroneously cited liability resulted in a media frenzy which led to immediate search and seizure of operations, and which in turn resulted in Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International effectively ceasing to be going-concerns.
"This thereby jeopardised our ability to discharge the dues of the group to the banks," Modi wrote in the letter.
"In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offer (on February 13, a day before the public announcement, and on 15) your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all the dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts,"he said.
The letter also refers to the extended discussions between him, and between his representatives and the bank officers, besides his emails of 13 and 15 February, 2018.
Hong Kong Based Entities Have Owners Spread Across the World
An investigation by Business Standard has revealed that some of the Hong Kong based companies to whom Nirav Modi paid $45 million in February have owners across the world- from Taiwan to Dubai and even India.
The money to these entities were paid in collusion with PNB officials through LoUs, which has been the modus operandi of the scam.
Sure Nirav Modi Will be Proven Not Guilty: Lawyer
Speaking to ANI, Nirav Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said:
"Like 2G Scam and Bofors matter this case will also collapse. Agencies are making noises in the media but they will not be able to prove the charges in a court of law. I am sure Nirav Modi will not be found guilty."
PNB Ratings Under Review: Moody's
Moody's places Punjab National Bank's ratings under review for downgrade, reported Reuters. The ratings agency said that if the bank were to provide for entire exposure then its capital position will deteriorate significantly.
Ratings agency Fitch too has placed the bank’s viability rating under Ratings Watch Negative, following the scam.
"Fitch Ratings has placed Punjab National Bank's (PNB) Viability Rating of 'bb' on Rating Watch Negative (RWN), following the large fraud reported by PNB," the US-based agency said in a statement.
The Viability Rating measures credit worthiness of a financial institution and reflects the likelihood of the entity to fail, as per Fitch.
Police to File Status Report on Mehul Choksi's 2016 Case
The Delhi High Court has directed the police to file a status report on the case against Mehul Choksi, pertaining to 2016.
Appearing for Choksi, his lawyer said that the FIR registered against him does not hold as he is not responsible for contracts between the company and its subsidiaries.
"Choksi is the head of the company and is not responsible for contracts between the subsidiary company and a franchisee, hence FIR cannot be registered against him."
The case was filed by a franchise owner, and the next date of hearing has been scheduled for 3 May.
Gitanjali Employees Protest Outside Hyderabad Unit
Employees of Gitanjali's unit in Maheshwaram Mandal's Raviryala in Ranga Reddy Districit staged a protest alleging that the company isn't letting them inside the premises and that they're out of work. Protesters reportedly raised slogans of 'We want justice'. ED conducted raids at the unit 3 days ago.
I-T Department Serves Notice to Anita Singhvi
According to Times Now, the Income Tax Department has served a notice to Anita Sinhgvi, wife of Abhishek Singhvi over unaccounted money that was allegedly paid to Nirav Modi.
News18 reported the notice was served after the I-T department discovered these transactions were made in cash for diamond jewellery worth Rs 6 crore.
Singhvi reportedly paid Rs 1.5 crore by cheque and the remaining through cash.
Officials of PNB, Nirav Modi's Company Quizzed; Searches Underway at Farmhouse
The CBI continued its crackdown in the PNB fraud case on Tuesday, 20 February, as it quizzed 10 PNB officials, including the present executive director-level officers. In addition, eight executives of Nirav Modi's company and 10 Gitanjali group officials were also questioned, the CBI said.
The investigating agency also identified a new farmhouse of Nirav Modi in Alibaug near Mumbai, and searches are underway there.
'Nirav Modi's Davos Photo Proves Nothing': Amit Shah
BJP President Amit Shah countered the criticism of PM Modi concerning the Nirav Modi fraud case on Tuesday, saying that the latter's Davos photo, in which the former was also there, "proves nothing".
"Even you people are sitting with me and if one of you commits a crime, will you make me liable too? As far as Nirav Modi case is concerned, the Centre has taken it seriously and already seized more than 5,000 crore (worth) assets." - Amit Shah
Special CBI Court Sends 3 PNB Officers to Police Custody
The Mumbai Special CBI court has sent three officers of the PNB's MCB Brady House Branch to police custody till 3 March. The three officers are Bechhu Tiwari, Yashwant Joshi and Praful Sawant.
Bechhu Tiwari, Chief Manager in charge of Forex department, Yashwant Joshi, Scale II Manager of the Forex department and Praful Sawant, Scale I Officer, Export, were arrested on Monday, 19 February.
'Incumbent Upon State to Chase Those Who Cheat Banking System': Arun Jaitley
Speaking on the PNB fraud, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said "it is incumbent upon the state to chase those who cheat the banking system".
Questioning the auditors, Jaitley said:
"What were the auditors doing? If both internal and external auditors have looked the other way and failed to detect then I think CA professionals must introspect. Supervisory agencies must also introspect what are the additional mechanisms they have to put in place." - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
IT Dept Carries Out Raids
The Income Tax Department on Tuesday searched 20 premises of the Gitanjali group, connected to 13 companies, which include those of Mehul Choksi. The searches were carried out at Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Hyderabad and Bangalore, the sources told ANI.
ED conducted a raid at a Gitanjali outlet inside Shopper's Stop located at City Centre Mall in Siliguri, West Bengal on Thursday.
Banks Were Confidentially Warned Thrice Against Misuse of SWIFT: RBI
The RBI said on Tuesday, 20 February, it had "confidentially" cautioned banks thrice since August 2016 on the risks arising from malicious use of SWIFT system, and has decided to set up a panel to look into the rising incidence of frauds, reported PTI.
In a statement, the Reserve Bank of India said that as part of the ongoing efforts for strengthening of the supervisory framework in the country, it has been issuing necessary instructions to banks from time to time on a variety of issues of prudential supervisory concern, including the management of operational risks inherent in the functioning of banks.
The risks arising from the "potential malicious use" of the SWIFT infrastructure, created by banks for their genuine business needs, has always been a component of their operational risk profile.
RBI further said it “had, therefore, confidentially cautioned and alerted banks of such possible misuse, at least on three occasions since August 2016, advising them to implement the safeguards detailed in the RBI’s communications, for pre-empting such occurrences”.
Banks have, however, been at varying levels in implementation of such measures, it added.
The central bank said it has decided to constitute an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of YH Malegam, a former member of the Central Board of Directors of RBI.
Bank Officers Union Wants Bank, RBI Roles Probed
The bank officers’ union called for a thorough investigation into the possible lapses at Punjab National Bank's board and also at the regulator RBI to find out how the Rs 11,400-crore scam continued for multiple years.
"How the checks and balances are appropriately operated by the bank at the highest level of operation, and how RBI arms were a mute spectator, are the subject matter of investigation." - All India Bank Officers Association statement
Wondering how the scam went undetected, it said a branch dealing with foreign exchange is subjected to a "foreign exchange audit" by the bank as well as by the Reserve Bank regularly.
Apart from that, there are a host of audits including internal audit, concurrent audit, snap audit, recovery audit, statutory audit, external audit and stock audit which are conducted regularly.
The union said it is unfair to blame the public sector banks if PNB has not linked its core banking system with the international payment gateway system of SWIFT.
PNB, Rotomac Scams Set to Rock Second Leg of Parliament's Budget Session
The multi-crore PNB bank fraud and the Rotomac issue is set to rock the second leg of Parliament's Budget Session with the Congress saying it would talk to other like-minded parties to demand answers from the government on the state of the banking sector in the country.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said his party would not let go of the issues till the government gives a satisfactory response.
The second leg of the Budget Session of Parliament is slated to commence from 5 March.
"This is only the tip of the iceberg. The banking sector is in serious trouble. The government is trying to obfuscate the facts. They are trying to hide the enormity of the crisis which is afflicting the banking sector" - Manish Tewari
"You have seen how all political parties got together to meet the President on the issue of probe into CBI judge Loya's death case. Answers will be demanded from the government on these issues in Parliament," the Congress leader said.
'Can't Pay You, Look For Other Jobs': Nirav Modi to Employees
Nirav Modi, the man in the eye of the PNB fraud storm, has reportedly a penned a second letter, this time addressing his employees. In an email, Modi told his employees to look for other jobs as he will be unable to pay them their dues in light of the scam, reported Hindustan Times.
According to the paper, which has accessed the email, Modi is believed to have written that the 'near future is uncertain'.
Nirav Modi's Lawyer Asks Why Would His Client Run Away
The lawyer of Nirav Modi on Tuesday questioned reports that his client has fled the country, asking why would anyone run away leaving behind assets worth over Rs 5,000 crore, reported PTI.
"Everybody is saying that Nirav Modi has run away. Why would anyone flee, leaving assets worth Rs 5,000 to 6,000 crore for the Enforcement Directorate to recover." - Advocate Vijay Aggarwal to PTI on the phone
However, he did not reply to questions about his client's whereabouts or whether or when he would return to India.
"Please explain to me who is a fugitive? Against him there are summons to appear in person. You have branded him as a fugitive on what basis, please tell me? I am a very optimistic person. The fate of the case is ‘khoda pahaad nikli chuhiya’." - Nirav Modi’s lawyer
"I have studied the case file and this case will have a similar fate like that of the 2G and Bofors. Agencies are making all the noises in the media. They will not be able to prove these charges in the court. Nirav will not be found guilty, I am certain,” the lawyer said.
SC Adjourns PIL Hearing to 16 March
The Supreme Court has adjourned the PIL seeking an independent SIT probe into the scam to 16 March.
The Centre had opposed the PIL at the apex court during the hearing. The petitioner Vineet Dhanda said that the court should at least issue a notice to the Centre on the issue as the government had ‘done nothing in a similar case relating to Vijay Mallya’.
The plea reportedly sought an independent probe and the deportation of Nirav Modi in two months.
CBI Arrests Former Brady House Branch Official
CBI on Tuesday night arrested a General Manager (GM) rank officer of Punjab National Bank (PNB), Rajesh Jindal who was holding the charge of Branch Head at PNB Brady House branch, Mumbai during August 2009 to May 2011.
The CBI said that during his tenure at PNB Brady House branch, the practice of issuance of LOUs without sanctioned limits to Nirav Modi group firms had started. He is presently posted as GM Credit, PNB Head Office, New Delhi.
'Look Forward to Your Sermon': Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi yet again launched a fresh attack on PM Modi over his silence on the PNB fraud case, asking him to address the issue in his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme.
Modi Ji, last month you ignored my suggestions for your Mann Ki Baat monologue.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 21, 2018
Why ask for ideas when in your heart you know what every Indian wants to hear you speak about?
1. Nirav Modi's 22,000 Cr. Loot & Scoot
2. The 58,000 Cr. RAFALE scam.
I look forward to your sermon. pic.twitter.com/jp0AnLePtU
Later, addressing a rally in Shillong, Meghalaya, Gandhi also slammed Modi for not addressing the issue.
"PM Modi can spend an hour and 45 minutes addressing children on how to approach exams, but he cannot spend five minutes on addressing the Nirav Modi scam, who has run away with your money."
CBI Arrests 5 in PNB Fraud Case, Including Firestar CFO Vipul Ambani
The CBI made five high-profile arrests in the PNB fraud case on Tuesday, 20 February, including that of Vipul Ambani, President, Finance, Firestar International/Diamonds Group.
The others who were arrested include Kavita Mankikar, the authorised signatory of three accused firms; Arjun Patil, senior executive, Firestar group; Kapil Khandelwal, CFO, Nakshatra group; and, Niten Shah, manager, Gitanjali group.
All accused, including Vipul Ambani, were sent to police custody till 5 March by special CBI court in Mumbai.
Govt Must Get a Free Hand to Probe PNB Fraud: SC
The government must get a free hand to probe the over Rs 11,000 crore PNB fraud case, allegedly involving billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, the Supreme Court said on 22 February.
The top court said it would step in only when agencies fail to carry out the investigation properly.
“If the government does not do things that are required, then you (petitioner) can come. It is not that the government agencies are not acting,” the bench, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, said, adding that the government must have “a free hand” to probe the scam.
Lawyer Vineet Dhanda, who has filed the PIL, sought an independent probe and the deportation of Nirav Modi. He said that either a notice must be issued or a status report called from the centre as "the whole country was watching that the government had not done anything" in the past in a similar case relating to Vijay Mallya.
"Speeches have no impact on the court. We will hear the legal issue and not the emotional aspect," the bench replied.
CBI Seals Nirav Modi's Farmhouse in Alibaug
The CBI, on 22 February, sealed a luxury property of billionaire Nirav Modi in Alibaug area near Mumbai, officials said. The 1.5 acre farmhouse, at a stone's throw distance from the Arabian Sea, was purchased by Modi in 2004 for Rs 32 crore – for hosting special parties for his clientele to showcase his jewellery collection.
The farmhouse, located about 100 km by road from Mumbai in Raigad district also has a 12,000 sq ft bungalow with five bedrooms, a large swimming pool, a movie theatre and a library, they said.
ED Seizes 9 Luxury Cars Belonging to Nirav Modi
The Enforcement Directorate has seized nine luxury cars of belonging to Nirav Modi. The seized cars include one Rolls Royce Ghost, two Mercedes Benz GL 350 CDIs, one Porsche Panamera, 3 Honda cars, one Toyota Fortuner and one Toyota Innova.
The agency has also frozen shares and mutual funds worth Rs 94 crore belonging to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s companies.
Officials of the agency said frozen mutual funds and shares worth Rs 86.72 crore belong to Choksi and his group, while Modi’s shares and mutual funds made up the remaining amount.
Vipul Ambani Was Fully Aware of Fraudulent Practices: CBI
The CBI has revealed that Vipul Ambani, the arrested CFO of Firestar International, was fully aware of the fraudulent and illegal LoUs, which were issued by Gokulnath Shetty ‘in conspiracy and guidance’ of Nirav Modi and other employees.
The agency has further found that Ambani was also meeting not only PNB officials of Brady House, but also the officials from PNB Circle, Zonal office in Mumbai and the Head Office in New Delhi.
PNB Branch Manager in Barmer, Rajasthan Charged, CBI Questions 12 Accused
Questioning is underway of 12 accused who were arrested by CBI. A number of PNB officials including seniors officers are also being questioned by the intelligence agency.
The CBI has also filed a case against PNB branch manager of Barmer (Rajasthan) Inder Chand Chundawat. He had transferred amount of govt schemes worth Rs 1.57 crore and Rs 62 lakh worth Mudra loans in private accounts. The CBI has filed 2 FIRs against the Branch Manager.
Come up With Implementable Plan to Repay Dues: PNB Tells Nirav Modi
Scam-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB) on Thursday asked billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi to come up with a concrete and implementable plan to settle the loss caused to it by fraudulent issuance of Letter of Undertakings (LoU) through one of its branches.
PNB said this in its response to a mail written by Nirav Modi, who allegedly cheated the bank of Rs 11,400 crore in connivance with a few bank officials.
"You were getting LoUs issued illegally and in an unauthorized way through few bank officials. At no stage such facilities were extended by our bank to your three partner firms," sources said citing mail response sent by PNB General Manager (international banking division) Ashwini Vats to Nirav Modi.
When the illegal activities of Nirav Modi surfaced, the bank brought them to the notice of the law enforcement agencies as they apparently violated FEMA and anti-money laundering law, sources said.
"Your commitment and undertaking for sparing of the total liability was not backed by providing upfront amounts and timelines. However, should you have any concrete and implementable plan, do revert back." - PNB Mail to Nirav Modi
Nirav Modi in his letter to the bank had said that the over-zealousness on the part of the bank to deal with the issue destroyed his jewellery brand and also jeopardised his ability to clear the dues.
"The erroneously cited liability resulted in a media frenzy which led to immediate search and seizure of operations, and which in turn resulted in Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International effectively ceasing to be going-concerns... This thereby jeopardised our ability to discharge the dues of the group to the banks." - Nirav Modi in his letter to PNB
"In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offer (on February 13, a day before the public announcement, and on 15, your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all the dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts," Modi said in its letter to the bank.
Enough Assets to Meet Any Liability: PNB
State-owned PNB on Thursday said it has followed lawful avenues to recover its dues following Rs 11,400 crore swindling of funds allegedly by jewellery designer Nirav Modi and associates.
The country's second largest public sector lender also reaffirmed that it has enough assets to meet any liability.
"We have followed lawful avenues available to us as per law of the land to recover our dues." - PNB
Stock exchanges had sought clarification on Modi's comment that ''PNB has closed all options to recover dues by going public".
The bank had disclosed about the scam on 14 February through a regulatory filing.
On why it did not inform stock exchanges about the filing of FIR with CBI at the occurrence of the event, PNB said:
"Since law enforcing agencies were assigned to investigate the matter, any news in public would have altered the fraudster, affecting recovery."
The bank said on basis of preliminary investigation report, it had simultaneously informed its Board and BSE, NSE of initial fraud case of Rs 280.7 crore.
"Upon receiving further investigation report enhancing the fraud amount to Rs 11,394 crore, FMR (Fraud Monitoring Return) with RBI, FIR with CBI were filed in the evening of February 13, 2018, and BSE and NSE were informed on February 14 around 9 am," the bank said.
About the impact of the scam on the financials and operations of the bank, it said: "We have enough assets/ capital to meet any liability which is decided as per law".
Thackeray Targets Modi Govt Over PNB
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday said the Rs 11,400 crore scam at the PNB had pushed the controversy surrounding the purchase of Rafale fighter jets to the back-burner.
"Bigwigs indulge in corruption and leave the country. However, poor farmers, who have taken small loans but are unable to repay them, are forced to end their lives. Until this contrast ends, fixing nets in Mantralaya (to prevent suicides) will not solve the issue. How were loans worth thousands of crores given?" - Uddhav Thackeray
He asked how it was possible for some people to siphon off thousands of crores of rupees in the past two-three years when, during demonetisation, ordinary people were asked several questions when they went to their banks to withdraw cash.
"Scams are coming out in the open one after the other. Due to this issue (the Punjab National Bank scam), the Rafale scam has been put on the back-burner," Thackeray said.
The Sena chief said there was an atmosphere of suspicion towards banks in the country today as people had deposited their life's savings thinking that banks were safe.
However, when a bank is bust by someone intentionally, the government takes responsibility of just Rs 1 lakh, he said.
"I have asked Sena MPs to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the finance minister and submit a memorandum, asking that the government take complete responsibility for people’s money. If the government can wring our necks and collect taxes, why can’t it safeguard our money?"
Nirav Modi's Lawyer Files Three Applications in Special Court
MEA Statement on Two Questions By Journalists on Nirav Modi
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar gave an official statement on 2 questions put up by journalists related to Nirav Modi.
- On the question regarding whereabouts of Mr. Nirav Modi, official spokesperson said that the matter should be addressed to the law enforcement agencies. There are certain investigations and legal procedures which need to be completed before MEA comes into the picture.
- On the question regarding the notice to Mr. Nirav Modi, the spokesperson said that the request had been received to send notice to a particular email id. Accordingly the notice was sent to the email id as requested.
Nirav Modi Fails to Keep ED Date; Agency Issues Fresh Summons
Fresh summons was issued against Nirav Modi after he failed to appear and depose before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, official sources said.
They added that Modi had replied to the ED's investigating officer (IO), who is probing the role of the diamond merchant and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, in the Rs 11,400-crore alleged fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB), and cited the temporary suspension of his passport and pending business issues as reasons for his non-appearance.
Modi was summoned by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The sources said he had now been asked to join the investigation and appear before the central probe agency in Mumbai on 26 February.
Modi, it is understood, had sent an e-mail to the ED, stating that while his passport was temporarily suspended, he was also dealing with the recent developments and investigations, pertaining to the alleged bank fraud, against his businesses in the country and hence, he was unable to depose before the agency.
It maybe recalled that a few years back, liquor baron Vijay Mallya had cited the same reasons for not appearing before the ED and the agency had asked him to approach the nearest Indian embassy and get a travel document issued in order to return to the country.
PNB Has Transferred 1,415 Employees Since 19 February
Scam-hit Punjab National Bank said on Thursday that it has transferred 1,415 employees since 19 February following advisory from Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
PNB said that these transfers were made as per routine transfer policy of the Bank and that they have not affected the operations, according to Business Standard.
According to the Business Standard report, out of the 1,415 employees, 721 are officers, 437 are clerks and 257 are sub-staffers.
Show-Cause Notices Issued to Auditors of PNB & Gitanjali Gems
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) said it has issued show-cause notices to the auditors of Punjab National Bank and Gitanjali Gems in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore fraud at the public sector lender.
Besides, the institute has summoned a deputy general manager of the bank seeking details about the fraud.
Further, the ICAI has also written to the Reserve Bank of India requesting it to provide the list of the corporate borrowers of public sector banks having outstanding loan amount of Rs 2,000 crore and above.
The list would be examined by the Financial Reporting Review Board of ICAI for any possible violation of applicable standards of accounting as well as auditing.
CBI Questions Deputy General Managers of PNB
The CBI questioned three deputy general managers of Punjab National Bank in connection with its probe into the fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) to jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, agency officials said.
The agency also confronted the 12 accused arrested by it with the material seized during searches, documents and each others' statements so far, the officials said.
Finance Ministry Puts Checks in Place
According to sources in the Finance Ministry, the ministry has written to four Hong Kong banks that got LOUs from PNB, reported ANI.
The four banks mentioned are SBI, Axis Bank, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India. The ministry has reportedly told them to reconcile their accounts and check for irregularities.
Further, all banks are expected to reconcile LOUs they have given. The PSU banks are also to appoint a special representative or agency to monitor status for all loans above Rs 250 crore.
ED Freezes Shares, Accounts Worth Rs 43 Crore
ED freezes bank accounts with Rs 30 crore balance, shares of Rs 13.86 crore value held in a company of Nirav Modi.
During a search on the basis of a tip-off , ED seized 176 steel almirahs and 60 plastic containers containing imported watches.
'People Are Resigning on Their Own': Gitanjali Employee
Employees of Gitanjali Gems protest outside the Gitanjali office in MIDC Andheri East, Mumbai.
One employee tells ANI, 'No one is forcing us to resign, people are resigning on their own’.
Priyanka Chopra Terminates Contract with Nirav Modi
In light of recent allegations, Priyanka Chopra has chosen to terminate her contract with the Nirav Modi brand, said her spokesperson.
The actor had appeared in a TV commercial for the brand along with Sidharth Malhotra.
Sidharth had earlier told PTI that since his contract with the brand was already over, he will not seek any legal action.
Meanwhile, actor Bipasha Basu, who featured in a Gitanjali Gems advertisement, has claimed that the brand, owned by Modi's uncle Mehul Choksi, continued to use her pictures even after her contract expired, reported PTI.
However, her spokesperson has clarified that she was not seeking any legal action against the company.
Need to Revisit Surveillance System to Plug Loopholes: Ex-PNB Chief
Admitting that failure of linkage of SWIFT to core banking system (CBS) could have led to Rs 11,400 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank, the former head of the scam-hit lender said on Friday, 23 February, that there was an urgent need for banks to revisit their surveillance system and plug the loopholes, reported PTI.
Usha Ananthasubramanian, who is now managing director and CEO of Allahabad Bank, said that at her bank too, SWIFT is not linked to CBS, and the process of linking both the systems is currently on.
"I want to tell you that there could be always (loopholes) because technology advances so fast that what is today could get obsolete tomorrow and you might not have upgraded. Now, it is time for all of us (banks) to very closely revisit (the surveillance system) and then take all steps that can create maximum security." - Usha Ananthasubramanian, as quoted by PTI
Price of Watches Seized by ED as Low as Rs 2,600
The price of some of the watches seized by the Enforcement Directorate in the Nirav Modi case was as low as Rs 2,600. The ED seized 176 steel almirahs and 60 plastic containers containing imported watches on Friday, 23 February.
In addition, the agency also froze bank accounts with Rs 30 crore balance, and shares of Rs 13.86 crores value were held in a company of Nirav Modi.
The ED plans to recover Rs 11,400 crore by seizing and auctioning various assets belonging to the accused and their companies.
No Curbs on Cash Withdrawals: PNB
While it finds itself at the centre of a Rs 11,400 crore fraud, the Punjab National Bank has clarified that it hasn't imposed any curbs on cash withdrawals for customer, reported Reuters.
According to Reuters, the bank further stated that it has not got any instructions from either RBI or the government to pay the fraud amount to the other banks.
Modi Breaks His Silence on PNB Fraud, Promises 'Strict Action'
Breaking his silence over the Rs 11,400-crore fraud at India's second-biggest public sector bank PNB, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, 23 February, that his government will take stringent action against financial irregularities and not tolerate loot of public money, reported PTI.
Days after the fraud came to light, the Prime Minister asked the management of financial institutions as well as the supervisory bodies to do their job diligently to check such frauds.
"I want to make it clear that this government has been taking strict action against financial irregularities and will continue to take strict action. System will not tolerate loot of public money." - PM Modi at Global Business Summit organised by The Economic Times
Without naming either the alleged kingpin of the fraud, Nirav Modi, or Punjab National Bank, the Prime Minister said the management of financial institutions, auditors and regulators should perform their duty with full dedication.
“I want to make an appeal to those who have been entrusted with the job of framing rules and policies and maintaining ethics to do their job diligently and with dedication,” he said, adding this should specially be followed by those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of supervision and monitoring.
'I Know I Have Done Nothing Wrong': Mehul Choksi
Gitanjali Group Chairman and Managing Director Mehul Choksi has written a letter to his employees on the PNB fraud, saying that he knows he has done nothing wrong.
In the letter released by his lawyer Sanjay Abbot, Choksi says:
"I will face my destiny and I know I have done nothing wrong and ultimately the truth shall prevail. I am facing a lot of problems due to the manner in which the multiple investigative agencies/government agencies have started to create a havoc, hell bent upon stopping the operations." - Mehul Choksi
ED Attaches 21 Properties of Nirav Modi Group Worth Over Rs 523 Cr
The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday, 24 February, attached 21 properties of the Nirav Modi group, including flats and farmhouses, worth over Rs 523 crore under the anti-money laundering law, officials told PTI.
'In the Indian System, Politicians are Accountable But Regulators Are Not': FM
Speaking at the Global Business Summit in Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that "regulators have a very important function", but "unfortunately, in the Indian system, we politicians are accountable but regulators are not".
"If a fraud is taking place in multiple branches of the banking system and no one raised the red flag, doesn’t that become worrisome for a country? Similarly, the top management which was indifferent, the multiple layers of the auditing system which chose to look other way, it creates a worrisome situation." - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley "Cases of willful default are something which are much more than a business failure and also bank frauds. If you periodically have incidents like these, the entire effort of ease of doing business goes to the background and these scars on the economy take the front seat." - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
'Why Blame Only the Regulator?': Kapil Sibal Hits Back at Jaitley
Hitting back at Jaitley's speech during the Global Business Summit in Delhi, Congress leader Kapil Sibal questioned why were the regulators only being blamed.
"What about the political system and the fact that the Finance Ministry must have known about it? What was the nominee of the government doing in these banks? Issues need to be investigated. It is very glib for people to say regulators are responsible." - Kapil Sibal
'Have No Idea Where He is': Mehul Choksi's Lawyer on His Whereabouts
Speaking about the letter in which Mehul Choksi said that he knows he has done nothing wrong, his lawyer, Sanjay Abbot, asserted that it was "written because everything has been sealed/seized" and his client is "not in a position to operate any account to pay the employees".
"So it was written to tell them that they are free," he claimed.
Regarding Choksi's whereabouts, Abbot said:
"Yes, we are in touch. That is a privilege communication between me and my client, I am not supposed to disclose. I have no idea where he is." - Sanjay Abbot, Mehul Choksi’s Lawyer
Passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi Revoked
The government, on 23 February, revoked the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, reported Hindustan Times.
"It’s ED & Passport Authority acting contrary to each other. Passport Authority initially suspended & later on revoked Passport. ED is saying please come & join, if one doesn’t have a passport & admittedly he’s abroad. How will he come & join?" - Vijay Aggarwal, Nirav Modi’s lawyer
The HT report says that under Section 10 (3) (C) of the Passport Act, a passport can be revoked in the interests of the sovereignty, integrity, security of the country or friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public.
Revoking an individual’s person can mean that he/she cannot travel from one country to another to avoid arrest.
CBI Examines PNB MD Sunil Mehta and Executive Director KV Brahmaji Rao
The CBI examined Punjab National Bank's Managing Director and CEO Sunil Mehta and its Executive Director K V Brahmaji Rao in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore PNB scam allegedly involving diamantaire Nirav Modi and owner of Gitanjali Gems Mehul Choksi, officials said.
They said the examination is focussed on understanding how the crime was detected by the bank and other procedural issues and their violations.
They are not being treated as accused, the officials said.
Explain How Money Was Taken Away Under Your Nose: Rahul to Pm on Bank Fraud
Dismissing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement that strict action would be taken in the PNB fraud case, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today asked him to first explain how the money was taken away from the bank under his nose.
"A scam of Rs 22,000 crore happens, Nirav Modi runs away with Rs 22,000 crore from Indian Banks and Modiji (Prime Minister) says action will be taken," Gandhi said addressing a rally in poll-bound Karnataka.
ED Expands Probe, Writes to 16 More Banks
The Enforcement Directorate expanded their probe against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi as they are looking to include other loans they have taken from 16 other banks in the last few years apart from the Punjab National Bank, the Indian Express reported. This, if materialised, may take the quantum of alleged losses caused by them to banks to nearly Rs 20,000 crore, Indian Express quoted sources.
Karnal Singh, ED Director has written to the banks for details on the loans given to the two.
“We are at present seeking information from banks which have given bigger loans. We have learnt that these loans have been granted at collaterals which are just 12 per cent of the total value of the loans. We want to see on what basis these loans were granted and whether these are still recoverable. However, we have not asked any bank to file a complaint with us,” Indian Express quoted an ED official as saying.
Banks Plan Raising Cover Against Fraud
Rattled by a spate of frauds in the banking sector, lenders are now planning to increase insurance cover against delinquencies by their employees to protect their bottomlines.
"Frauds of such magnitude and scale -- PNB fraud Rs 11,400 crore and OBC fraud Rs 390 crore -- has forced us to consider substantially much higher risk cover than the basic banker’s indemnity policy which various banks have right now." - Public Sector Bank official
Punjab National Bank had only bought a basic banker's indemnity policy, which covers employee fraud, to the extent of Rs 2 crore which would not cover even 0.2 per cent of Rs 11,300 crore fraud done allegedly by Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and his associates in connivance with officials of a Mumbai branch.
Soon after this, a case of alleged swindling of Rs 390 crore from Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) was registered against a Delhi-based diamond jewellery exporter. In between there was a fraud case of Rs 3,695 crore by Rotomac Pen company owner Vikram Kothari in which the CBI filed cases and effected several arrests.
With faith on their own internal audit system and risk management, banks were not keen for higher cover but a series of frauds in the system have compelled them and in the recent Indian Banks' Association meeting also the issue came up for the deliberation, the official of another public sector lender said.
However, the official said, cover can be for fraud not for the wilful default where number of lenders are involved and these two have to be dealt separately.
In the Winsome Diamond Group’s case, the company took a loan of Rs 6,800 crore from a consortium of banks, including PNB. However, Nirav Modi primarily cheated PNB by getting fake LoUs made in connivance with various bank officials.
Besides, there is allegation of forgery and unauthorised use of global payment network SWIFT for unauthorised issuance of credit instrument (LoU) while lenders issued standby letters of credit in favour of international bullion banks to supply gold to Winsome Group companies.
Out of Rs 6,800 crore outstanding, Winsome’s associate Forever Precious Diamonds and Jewellery owes another Rs 2,121.82 crore to a set of banks led by PNB.
At the same time, Winsome so far is seen and tried at various courts of law as case of commercial default by an old customer Haytham and due to cross-default clause in standby letters of credit (SBLC) resulting in cumulative large default on banks.
Recently, the Sharjah Federal Courts have passed decrees in favour of Winsome Diamond and its associate Forever and against the overseas customers controlled by Jordanian national Al Haytham in the suits for recovery of money.
The court process involved institution of an experts' committee which concluded that the transactions were genuine and money is owed by Haytham companies to Winsome. The order also attributed the cause of Haytham default to his losing money in derivatives trading.
CBI Questions PNB's Executive Director for Second Day
The CBI has examined Punjab National Bank's Executive Director KV Brahmaji Rao for the second day today in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore PNB scam allegedly involving jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, officials said.
Rao, who started his career in banking 35 years ago as a probationary officer in Vijaya Bank, handled the Mumbai zone, among others, in the bank where the crime was allegedly detected, they said.
The officials said several other officers of the bank were being questioned by the agency as well.
Lawyer Says He Will Advise Nirav Modi Not To Return To India For Investigation
Nirav Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal seems confident the case against his client, accused in a fraud worth over Rs 11,000 crore, would not stand in a court of law for “even five minutes”.
Punjab National Bank’s claim that there were no records of letters of undertakings extended to Modi’s firms could be easily refuted, Aggarwal told BloombergQuint in an interview.
" To say it is not in the books of the bank is an incorrect statement, absurd, which is not going to stand for even five minutes in the court of law." - Vijay Aggarwal, Nirav Modi’s Lawyer
ED to Seek Info from Over Dozen Countries on Nirav Modi, Choksi's Assets
Widening its probe into the PNB fraud case, the Enforcement Directorate will soon send judicial requests to over a dozen countries for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of diamantaire Nirav Modi and owner of Gitanjali Gems Mehul Choksi.
Official sources said the agency will approach a competent court in Mumbai with a request to obtain Letters Rogatories (LRs) to be sent to about 15-17 countries where the central investigation agency has traced the footsteps of the diamond and gold jewellery businesses of the firms owned by Modi, his uncle Choksi and others associated with them.
The countries where the LRs would be sent include Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa.
Some official requests on the basis of agency-to-agency exchange will also be sent to few countries, the sources said.
India’s second largest state-owned lender Punjab National Bank disclosed on 14 February that it was the victim of the country’s largest bank fraud. PNB revealed that fraudulent transactions by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and related entities amounted to $1.77 billion (or over Rs 11,000 crore).
In a complaint to the CBI, the bank said that Modi and the companies linked to him colluded with its officials to get Letters of Undertaking to help fund buyer’s credit from other overseas banks. The funds – ostensibly raised for the purchase and sale of diamonds – were not used for that purpose, PNB alleged.
Arrests in the case so far include Firestar CFO Vipul Ambani, former PNB staffers Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat, among others. Nirav Modi, as it turned out, had left India with his family in the first week of January.
The CBI had also registered an FIR against Mehul Choksi, Modi’s maternal uncle and the promoter of Gitanjali Group.
- Passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have been revoked
- PM Modi breaks his silence on PNB Fraud, promises ‘strict action’
- Nirav Modi had accused PNB, saying the bank’s ‘overzealousness’ shut the doors on his ability to clear the dues
- The fraud is said to extend to other lenders, including SBI, Union Bank, Axis Bank and Allahabad Bank
Stay tuned to The Quint as we cover the multi-pronged probe into India’s largest bank fraud.
. Read more on India by The Quint.PNB fraud: CBI questions top Gitanjali officialPNB Scam: Passports of Modi, Choksi Revoked; ED Expands Probe . Read more on India by The Quint.