PNB scam now pegged at ₹13,578 crore, says CBI

The Punjab National Bank scam is now worth ₹13,578 crore, with the bank filing a supplementary complaint with the CBI against Mehul Choksi, his companies and their senior functionaries for an additional amount of ₹942.18 crore.

In a statement, the bank said ₹942.18 crore was part of the regular limits sanctioned to Mr. Choksi’s Gitanjali group under consortium lending, and was the standard credit exposure at the time of detection of the fraud. “Now, this exposure is being added to the existing fraudulent amount.

“This amount has nothing to do with any new fraudulent Letters of Undertaking/Letters of Credit,” said the bank. The CBI has registered three cases against diamond merchants Nirav Modi and his uncle Mr. Choksi, besides others. Two FIRs are based on allegations of fraudulent transactions through the PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai that were facilitated by the then Deputy Manager Gokulnath Shetty.

“The supplementary complaint for an additional sum of ₹942.18 crore was lodged on March 4. It has been incorporated in the FIR against Mr. Choksi and others,” said a CBI official. Accordingly, in the Choksi case, the total amount allegedly defrauded between 2013 and 2017 is now about ₹7,080.86 crore, said the agency.

The CBI has added Section 409 (breach of trust) of the IPC provision to the FIR. It is alleged that of various 143 unauthorised and fraudulent Letters of Undertaking were issued in favour of overseas branches of Indian banks and the value of 313 purported Foreign Letters of Credit was enhanced in favour of foreign suppliers of the accused companies.

The funds raised for payment of import bills were not used for the stated purposes in several cases, according to the bank.

“It has also been alleged that Gitanjali Gems Limited, Gili India Limited, Nakshatra Brands Limited and Asmi Jewellery India Limited defrauded the PNB in the matter of sanctioned limits.

Amount likely to go up

The amount involved in the third FIR against Mr. Modi, as a director of Firestar International Limited and Firestar Diamonds International, and others, is also expected to go up. It currently stands at ₹321.88 crore in the PNB case that pertains to the authorised credit facilities extended between 2013 and 2017. The bank has alleged that the funds were not used for the stated purposes.

Other banks of two consortium that had extended about ₹3,000 crore in loans to the Modi group may also lodge complaints seeking action.

Meanwhile, Vipul Ambani, president, finance, at the Nirav Modi-controlled Firestar Group of Companies, on Tuesday moved the Bombay High Court challenging his arrest in the PNB fraud case, and sought bail.

Mr. Ambani, arrested by the CBI last month, claimed that the agency did not follow due procedure while arresting him.

Mr. Ambani is a nephew of Reliance Industries founder late Dhirubhai Ambani.

The CBI had claimed while arresting him that Ambani was aware of fraudulent letters of undertaking issued by PNB’s former deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty in favour of Modi’s firms.

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Printable version | Aug 18, 2022 1:03:21 pm |