March 17, 2018

PNB fraud: Gitanjali Group's vice president detained by CBI

08 March 2018, 01:11 | Megan Pierce

Fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi

Mehul Choksi

The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Enforcement Directorate on a plea by Nirav Modi's firm Firestar Diamond against a money laundering case lodged by the agency in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

The Congress today demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in Parliament on steps being taken by him to bring back the accused in bank frauds, and alleged that the people's hard-earned money has been "looted" and sent offshore under a government which had promised to bring back the black money stashed overseas. An executive director of the ICICI Bank also reportedly went to the SFIO office where he answered questions on the bank's exposure to Choksi's firm Gitanjali Gems.

The agitating parliamentarians blamed the Narendra Modi government for failing to detect the Rs.12,600 crore scam and allowing main accused diamond czar Nirav Modi to escape the country.

In what has been dubbed the biggest fraud in India's banking history, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and police have accused two jewellery groups - one controlled by diamond tycoon Nirav Modi and the other by his uncle Mehul Choksi - of colluding with bank employees to get credit from overseas banks using fraudulent guarantees.

Axis Bank in a filing to BSE said that its exposure to the Nirav Modi and Gitanjali groups of companies is "approximately Rs 200 crore". "The bank is not the leader of the lending consortium in these groups".

The agency has issued Letter of Request (LRs) to ten countries seeking details of bank accounts of Modi, Chokshi and the shell companies. ICICI Bank confirmed that it is a working capital lender to Mehul Choksi.

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The Serious Fraud office works under the Federal Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

Clarifying the need for summoning the bank chiefs, the official said there were discrepancies in the declarations made by the company to different banks.

Earlier March 6 morning, the CBI escorted Chitalia from the Mumbai airport soon after he landed in the city.

Axis Bank in the past has been caught lying multiple times about the amount of bad loans (non-performing assets or NPAs) in its books.

With the widening of the probe, observers are expecting that even more instances of fraud by Indian corporates would come to light in the coming days.

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