Mumbai, February 27: Amid highly intensified probe into the Punjab National Bank fraud case, the PNB bank on Monday revealed an additional unauthorized transaction related to the scam by billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, increasing the estimated size of the fraud by Rs 1,322 crore. The latest increase means that the total fraud now amounts to nearly Rs 12,622 crore as against the original estimated over Rs 11,400 crore.
Notably, the value of the additional fraud amount is almost equal to PNB’s entire net income of Rs 1,320 crore for the fiscal year 2017. The additional fraud amount was revealed by the bank after the fresh letters of the undertaking was discovered.
The Punjab National Bank (PNB) said in a filing to stock exchanges on Monday night, “We have to inform that the quantum of reported unauthorized transactions can increase by Rs 1,322 crore.” The unauthorized transactions refer to Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) fraudulently issued by the bank’s mid-corporate branch at Brady House in Mumbai in favour of the Nirav Modi group and Gitanjali group companies.
Earlier in the day, the Enforcement Directorate taking its probe to a next level will soon send judicial requests to over a dozen countries for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi and owner of Gitanjali Gems Mehul Choksi in the PNB loan fraud case.
The ED will send LRs to the countries including Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa. On the other side, the ED has also asked about 16 other banks, apart from the Punjab National Bank, to share with it the details of loans extended and collaterals offered in the case of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and their companies. It has also asked the RBI to share with it audit reports of the PNB conducted by it since 2011.
This comes a day after Ministry of External Affairs has revoked the passports of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems owner Mehul Choksi. On the other hand, a special CBI court in Lucknow sent Rotomac pen company owner Vikram Kothari and his son Rahul to CBI remand for 11 days in connection with the multi-crore Banks loan default case.
ED earlier issued fresh summon to Nirav Modi after he failed to appear before the probe agency in the PNB loan fraud case. The ED had also frozen bank deposits containing 30 crore rupees and shares worth 13.86 crore rupees of the group under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had also seized a huge collection of imported watches from locations linked to the billionaire diamond merchant in connection with PNB scam. ED also summoned Nirav Modi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and has been asked to join the investigation and appear before the central probe agency in Mumbai on 26th February. On the other side, Income Tax Dept has attached SEZ property of Gitanjali Group in Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has also started its investigation as per the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 and rules framed under Chartered accountants' apex body. ICAI taking a strict action in connection with the case has issued show-cause notices to the auditors of Punjab National Bank and Gitanjali Gems.
Billionaire Diamond Jeweller Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after a recent complaint by the PNB, that they allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of 11,400 crore rupees. After the scam was unveiled, the Enforcement Directorate registered an FIR under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Nirav Modi and his Mumbai-based firms Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds.
CBI also registered fresh FIRs against 10 directors of the Gitanjali Group of companies on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act, including Mehul Choksi, the Managing Director of Gitanjali Gems Ltd based in Mumbai's Walkeshwar. The FIR also named two former bank employees said to be directly involved in the fraudulent transactions.
CBI sealed Brady House branch of Punjab National Bank in Mumbai from where the Rs 11,378.68 Crores PNB scam was originated and arrested GM level officer Rajesh Jindal. Rajesh Jindal was a branch head at Punjab National Bank Brady House branch. Dozens of the raid are already conducted in this case.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs decision was based on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which filed money laundering cases against Modi and Choksi in relation to the alleged Rs 11, 400 crore PNB fraud. MEA has also asked Modi and Choksi to respond within one week and justify why their passports should not be revoked.
Importantly, Nirav Modi and his brother Nishal Modi left the country on 1st of January this year. Nirav Modi's wife, an American citizen, left India on 6 January while Mehul Choksi left the country on 4 January. CBI received a complaint from PNB on 29th Jan 2018 and registered the case on 31st January.