Mumbai, March 1: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested PNB’s internal chief auditor MK Sharma in connection with the Rs 12,700-crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case involving billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi.
The move comes few days after 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 CBI arrested MK Sharma, the internal chief auditor of Punjab National Bank, in the Rs 12,700-crore fraud involving billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi. Sharma was allegedly responsible for auditing the systems and practices of PNB’s Brady House branch and report deficiencies to the zonal audit office.
Meanwhile, a special court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Nirav Modi as he failed to honour the three summons issued to him to appear before ED for investigation. On the other side, Income tax department has attached four more properties of Nirav Modi group in the tax evasion case.
These include a farmhouse at Alibag worth Rs 13 crore and a Solar Power Plant with 135 acres of land at Karjat, Ahmednagar worth Rs. 70 crore. According to Income tax sources, 34 more bank accounts/FDs of the Gitanjali group with the balance of Rs 1.45 Crore have been attached.
However, Nirav Modi has also refused to join the CBI investigation in this case, citing his business engagements, prompting the agency to issue a stern letter asking him to appear before it next week. 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. The Ministry of External Affairs revoked the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The decision was based on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which filed money laundering cases against Modi and Choksi.
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.
On February 14 this year, one of the biggest fraudulent case hit Mumbai where Punjab National Bank reported that it has detected fraudulent and unauthorized transactions in one of its branches in Mumbai. The cumulative fraud amounts to US $1,771.69 billion i.e. Rs 11,378.68 Crores.