India

Entire Punjab National Bank Scam Took Place in 2017-18, Says CBI FIR

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New Delhi: The entire Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam happened between 2017 and 2018, according to the CBI FIR. While ministers and BJP spokespersons came out all guns blazing against the Congress and claimed that the scam began in 2011, so far it appears the CBI investigation is limited to just 2017-2018.

If this scam started in 2011, then the purview of it would be over and above Rs 11,300 crore. The four Punjab National Bank officials who have been questioned so far, are also those who served during this period.

Those who are being questioned include Bechu Tiwari, the Chief Manager of Nariman Point branch from February 2015 to October 2017. Sanjay Kumar Prasad, the Deputy General Manager who was the Assistant General Manager at Braddy House branch between May 2016 and October 2017. Mohinder kumar Sharma, the Concurrent Auditor from November 2015 to July 2017, and Manoj Karat who was a Single Window Operator from November 2014 to December 2017.

Manoj Karat and Gokulnath Shetty have been mentioned in the FIR as accused. But Gokulnath has now gone absconding. He was last seen allegedly at his residence 5 days ago. CBI raided his premises on Friday and questioned his wife and brother. This is the third time they raided his premise.

CBI has now registered two FIRs in the PNB scam. Searches were conducted at 26 different premises related to Mehul Choksi, Gitanjali Group of companies and other directors of the companies. It includes factories, plants, offices and residencies of the above. These raids are on in six cities of 5 states, including Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Coimbatore.

The FIR is against Mehul Choksi, his three companies, Gitanjali Gems ltd, Gili India Ltd and Nakshatra Brands Ltd, the directors of these companies and the two bank employees. The FIR is based on a complaint given by the Punjab National Bank on February 13. In this case, the alleged loss to PNB is estimated to be Rs 4886.72 crore. It is one of the two complaints given by the bank where the total amount of estimated loss came to Rs 11,300 crore. The rest of the loss will be in the purview of the first FIR which was registered by CBI on January 31, 2018.

The fresh FIR involves 143 Letters of Understanding (LoUs), using which Choksi managed to get Rs 3031 crore worth funding. And 224 Foreign Letters of Credit, which were used to generate Rs 1798 crore from overseas branch of banks based out of India. 

These are separate from the earlier 150 LoUs which were mentioned in the first FIR and filed on January 31. CBI had earlier conducted raids in 21 different locations on February 3 and 4 that included residences of Nirav Modi, Ami Modi and bank officials. The first FIR named Nirav Modi, his wife Ami Modi, brother Nishal Modi, uncle Mehul Choksi and the two bank officials. 

In the raids, CBI seized diamonds worth crores which was handed over to the ED officials. Apart from that incriminating documents and a large server was seized. The server is being imaged and would then be sent for forensic analysis. The 18 Indian subsidiaries of these three banks were also raided on Friday.

CBI sources say they feel that PNB has been economical with truth in blaming just two employees for the entire Rs11,300 crore scam. Thus they are questioning three other employees who are not mentioned in the FIR.

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