Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the presence of PNB (Punjab National Bank) fraud accused celebrity jewellery designer Nirav Modi in the Indian business delegation at Davos, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said "being seen with the Prime Minister helped the businessman flee the country."
"Guide to Looting India by Nirav MODI. 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000Cr B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Govt looks the other way. From1MODI2another," tweeted Mr. Gandhi moments before the Congress held a press conference on the issue.
Complaint made to PMO in 2016
Releasing a group photograph where Mr. Nirav Modi was seen along with other top Indian businessmen and the Prime Minister, the Congress claimed that a gentleman named Hariprasad, had complained to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as early as July 26, 2016, about a bank fraud involving Mr. Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Chokshi — who owns Gitanjali jems and jewellery — but "the government authorities were sleeping on their jobs."
Speaking to The Hindu , Mr Hariprasad said his complaint to the PMO was mainly about Mr. Nirav Modi's business partner and uncle, Mehul Chokshi, with whom he had business dealings. " I didn't have any dealing with Mr. Modi but his business partner Mehul Chokshi,"said Mr. Hariprasad over phone.
The PMO acknowledged the complaint but, the Congress claims, the PMO, the Finance Minister and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) did not act firmly on the complaint to stop the designer-businessman from fleeing India.
The Congress said Mr. Hariprasad had mentioned that there were as many as 42 FIRS against companies owned by the Mr. Nirav Modi and Mr. Chokshi.
"Why did the Prime Minister allow such a fellow to be part of the Indian business delegation?"asked Randeep Surjewala, party's communication head who addressed the press conference along with Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil and Pawan Khera.
Scam will be around Rs. 30,000 crore, claims Congress
Though the scam, mainly involving the PNB, is about ₹11,000 crore, the Congress said it would be around ₹30,000 crore if banking experts are to be believed, as more banks were exposed to companies owned by Mr. Chokshi and Mr. Nirav Modi.
"How did the entire banking sector's Risk Management Systems and Fraud Detection Ability come to naught?" asked Mr. Surjewala.
Posing five questions to the government, the Congress said the Prime Minister should speak on the "biggest banking loot of the past 70 years" and explain how the jewellery designer was allowed to flee despite the PNB writing to the CBI on January 29 this year to issue a look-out circular against Mr. Nirav Modi.
"Who is protecting Nirav Modi/Mehul Chokshi? Who is responsible for the biggest bank loot scam" asked Mr. Surjewala.
When pointed out that several BJP leaders claimed that the scam was going on since 2011 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, the Congress chief spokesperson said, "The complaint of PNB to CBI mentions that Letters of Understanding were between February 9 and 14, 2017. By making counter allegations, there is a suspicion that the BJP is trying to hide something and protect them."