New Delhi, Feb 21: Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who of late has been regularly criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over its various economic policies including the demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST), has once again demanded answers from the ruling regime on the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.
The mastermind of scam, estimated to be around Rs 11,400 crore, billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, has already fled the country. The Centre is hardly speaking anything about the scandal, said to be one of the biggest banking scams of the country.
In his latest column for NDTV, veteran BJP leader Sinha stated that "the Nirav Modi scam has not only exposed the frailties of the banking system in the country but also sullied the sparkling image of the Narendra Modi government."
Sinha, like the rest of the country too, has raised several questions over the scam. Here is the list of 10 questions Sinha has asked the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley:
1) If the Nirav Modi scam started in 2011, then how many Letters of Undertaking (LoU) were issued year-wise? For the sake of further clarity, May 2014 should be treated as the dividing line and the figures should indicate the number of LoUs issued till May 2014 and thereafter in the rest of the year.
2) The amount involved in each LoU.
3) The period for which the LoU was valid i.e. was it 90 days, 180 days, 365 days or more?
4) Since an LoU is a guarantee of payment issued by the Punjab National Bank to another bank branch abroad, it is important to know how much money was withdrawn from the foreign branch of the other bank against each LoU.
5) In how many cases was the transaction completed by the scamster/s paying the LoU amount to the Punjab National Bank? Similarly, how many LoUs where not honoured?
6) If the foreign bank branch did not receive the payment in time, did the branch bring it to the notice of the PNB? In how many cases was the guarantee of the PNB invoked to secure the due payment?
7) Since all this involved foreign exchange transactions, how did it escape the attention of the Reserve Bank of India?
8) It has been claimed that Nirav Modi had set up 200 shell companies through which these transaction where conducted. How does this fit in with the government's tall claim that almost all the shell companies were closed in the months following demonetization?
9) The investigating agencies have been quick to give estimates of the goods seized from the raids on Nirav Modi's properties and the spokespersons of the ruling party have claimed that the entire amount involved in the scam would thus be recovered. My point is that if the investigating agencies can so quickly calculate the value of the goods seized, why cannot they put out the simple information I have mentioned above?
10) And finally, who benefits from the prevailing confusion? Let us not forget that shelf life of this news is only until the next big news hits the media. After that, Nirav Modi would become history like Vijay Mallya.
Since the scandal broke out a week ago, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been continuously attacking the Modi government. The scion of Gandhi family has also asked the PM to speak out on the multi-crore scam.