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PNB scam: Most of Nirav Modi’s fraud LoUs renewed, issued in 2017-18 says CBI in FIR

By Vicky

The Central Bureau of Investigation in its FIR says that a majority of the Letters of Understanding in the Rs 11,400 crore scam were either issued or renewed in the Punjab National Bank in 2017-18.

PNB scam: Most of Nirav Modi’s fraud LoUs renewed, issued in 2017-18 says CBI in FIR

On Thursday the CBI registered a fresh FIR against Mehul Choksi, the maternal uncle of Nirav Modi. The FIR was also registered against three companies in which it was stated that they swindled PNB to the tune of Rs 4,886.72 crore by way of getting 143 LoUs issued through the bank.

The CBI had conducted searches at 26 different premises related to Mehul Choksi, Gitanjali group of companies and other directors of the companies.

The FIR is based on a complaint given by the PNB on February 13

In this case, the alleged loss to the PNB has been estimated at Rs 4,886.72 crore. It is one of the two complaints given by the bank where a total amount of estimated loss comes up to Rs 11,300 crore. The rest of the loss will be under the purview of the FIR registered on January 31 2018.

The fresh FIR speaks about the 143 LoUs which were used by Choksi to get Rs 3,031 worth funding. These are in fact separate from the 150 LoUs that have been mentioned in the first FIR.

The CBI says in its FIR registered on Thursday that, "Accused Bank officials Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat in connivance with accused companies and directors during 2017-18 defrauded PNB to the tune of Rs 4886.72 crore in issuance of fraudulent and unauthorised LoUs in favour of foreign branches of different India-based banks and purported LCs (Letters of Credit) in favour of foreign suppliers of the accused companies."

While naming 16 accused including Choksi, his three companies Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand, the FIR says that apart from getting 143 LoUs issued, Choksi also got 224 Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) through PNB.

Shetty and Kharat deliberately omitted making entries of LoUs issued on behalf of Choksi's companies in the Core Banking System (CBS) of the bank to avoid detection, the FIR also states.

The FIR further said, "funds raised were meant to be used for payment of import bills of accused companies whereas it was dishonestly and fraudulently utilised for discharging the earlier liabilities on account of buyer's credit facility by overseas branches of Indian banks."

"The accused bank officials...unauthorisedly enhanced the value of FLCs manifold and issued amendments to said FLCs but did not enter the same in CBS," the FIR said.

Meanwhile the CBI is set to question more employees of PNB. The CBI felt that PNB had not told the entire truth and had put the blame on just two employees.

PNB had complained to the CBI and raised questions about the conduct of officials in the foreign branches as well. According to RBI guidelines, LoUs for trade in jewellery and diamonds is issued only for a period of 90 days but PNB officials were issuing LoUs for a period of even six months to a year, the complaint also stated. Further it stated that this ought to have raised an alarm in foreign branches.

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