The Rs 11,400 crore bank fraud involving Punjab National Bank (PNB) and billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi ~ along with his wife, brother, his business partner and uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali group, and their firms ~ seemed to be snowballing with fresh reports pointing to bigger exposure of many Indian banks, running into several thousand crores.
The CBI on Friday registered a fresh FIR against the Gitanjali group following a 13 February complaint from PNB that pointed to an alleged loss of about Rs 4,886 crore to the state-run bank.
The CBI’s fresh FIR is related to Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) worth about Rs 4,886 crore issued to Choksi’s Gitanjali group of companies of which Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra have been named in the fresh FIR.
The CBI had filed the first FIR against Nirav along with his brother Nishal, wife Ami, and Choksi and their firms on the basis of PNB’s first complaint dated 29 January for allegedly defrauding it of over Rs 280 crore.
The figure has since shot up to Rs 11,400 crore, going by PNB’s own declaration in a regualatory filing to stock exchanges on 14 February.
It is alleged that the accused in collusion with some PNB officials fraudulently got unauthorised LoUs and Foreign Letters of Credit issued to overseas branches of many Indian banks for release of overseas credit to the accused companies.
The accused firms related to Nirav Modi and his family reportedly managed to get about 150 LoUs issued by PNB between 2011 and 2017, leaving an outstanding loan amount of nearly Rs 11,400 crore for the bank.
Nirav, his family members, and Choksi are said to have left India in the first week of January 2018 ~ a few weeks before PNB detected the scam.
The CBI, which has issued a lookout circular against them, has also moved the Interpol to track them, requesting the international police body to issue “diffusion notice” in this regard.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) also approached the Centre to seek revocation of Nirav and Choksi’s passports followng which the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended them.
The CBI on Friday also carried out raids on the premises and firms of the accused, including Choksi’s Gitanjani group, at 20 places in Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Coimbatore.
ED officials also continued their searches and raids in many premises of the accused in different parts of the country.