In the backdrop of several bank frauds coming to light, the Reserve Bank of India has initiated a special audit of state-owned lenders. The focus would be on trade financing activities, especially those relating to the issuance of letters of undertakings.
In addition, the RBI has asked all banks for details of the LoUs they had written, including the amounts outstanding, and whether the banks had pre-approved credit limits or kept enough cash on margin before issuing the guarantees.
Most of the big banking frauds which were unearthed in the recent past, including the one perpetuated by diamantaire Nirav Modi and his associates, pertain to trade finance. Also, many of the willful default cases have their roots in trade finance, the sources said.
In view of the recent Rs 12,646-crore PNB scam, done through fraudulent issuance of LoUs by the connivance of the bank's staff, it was pertinent for the regulator RBI to examine the issue of trade finance which also included issuance of the letter of credit and LoUs, sources said.
Soon after Nirav Modi case came to light, the CBI registered a case against a Delhi-based diamond jewellery exporter Dwarka Das Seth International for an alleged bank loan fraud to the tune of Rs 389.85 crore towards Oriental Bank of Commerce. Dwarka Das Seth International availed various credit facilities from OBC between 2007-12.
Also, in the Bank of Baroda fraud case of 2015, two Delhi-based businessmen cheated it of Rs 6,000 crore by using the trade finance mechanism.