PNB fraud: Explain Nirav Modi’s escape, says Congress

Updated - February 17, 2018 03:52 pm IST

Published - February 15, 2018 08:37 pm IST

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said celebrity designer Nirav Modi “used the clout of being seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Davos to slip out.”

Acccusing the government authorities of “sleeping” on a July 26, 2016 complaint, the principal Opposition party called it the “biggest bank loot in the past 70 years” and referred to the celebrity designer as “chhota Modi” .

“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 detailed a press conference on the issue.

Releasing a group photograph where Nirav Modi is seen along with other top Indian businessmen and Prime Minister Modi, the Congress claimed that a Bengaluru-based businesssman, Hari Prasad, had complained to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as early as July 26, 2016 about the bank fraud involving Mehul Chokshi – owner of Gitanjali Gems and Jewellery Limited – who is also Nirav Modi’s partner and uncle.

The Congress claimed the 42 FIRs (criminal complaints) against companies owned by Mr. Chokshi and Nirav Modi were also known to the PMO.

“Why did the Prime Minister allow such a person to be part of the Indian business delegation?” asked Randeep Surjewala, Congress’s communication head.

Though the scam involving Punjab National Bank is to the tune of ₹11,400 crore, Mr. Surjewala said banking experts believe it will be around ₹30,000 crore once the exposure of other banks to companies owned by Mr. Chokshi and Mr. Modi are known.

Posing five questions to the government, the Congress said the Prime Minister should speak up on the “biggest bank loot scam” and explain how the designer-bsuinessman could flee despite the Punjab National Bank writing to the CBI on January 29 this year to issue a Look Out notice against him.

The Opposition party also claimed that the scam clearly indicated the collapse of the banking sector’s Risk Management Systems and Fraud Detection Ability. “How was the entire system bypassed? How did the fraud escape the eyes of all auditors and investigators? Does it not point to active complicity at the highest level? Who is protecting Nirav Modi/Mehul Chokshi?” asked Mr. Surjewala.

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