Breaking his silence over the Rs.11,000 crore PNB fraud, defiant key accused Nirav Modi has slammed the bank for going public and “destroying” his brand while expressing his inability to repay the debt.
In a letter written to Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) management on February 15-16, Modi blamed PNB’s overzealousness for shutting the doors on his ability to clear the dues.
According to PTI, Modi , in his letter has pegged the money his companies owe to the bank under Rs.5,000 crore.
“The erroneously cited liability resulted in a media frenzy which led to immediate search and seizure of operations, and which in turn resulted in Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International effectively ceasing to be going-concerns,” he wrote in the letter.
“This thereby jeopardised our ability to discharge the dues of the group to the banks,” Mr Modi wrote in the letter.
“In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offer (on February 13, a day before the public announcement, and on 15) your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all the dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts,” he said.
The letter also refers to the extended discussions between him, and between his representatives and the bank officers, besides his emails of February 13 and 15, 2018.
Nirav Modi left the country along with his family in the first week of January, before the alleged scam became public.
The PNB, the second largest state-run bank, had, on February 14, informed the exchanges about detecting a $ 1.77 billion fraud at its Brady House branch in Mumbai, and named the firms led by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group, and some other diamond and jewellery merchants as suspects.
On the over Rs. 11,000-crore loss claimed by the PNB in the FIR, Modi said, “As you are aware, this is entirely incorrect and the liability of the Nirav Modi Group is substantially less.”
He said that even after PNB’s complaint was filed, he wrote to them in good faith asking them to sell or allow him to “sell Firestar Group, or their valuable assets, and recover the dues not just from Firestar Group, but also from the three firms.”
Valuing his domestic business at around Rs. 6,500 crore, he said, “This could have helped reduce/discharge the debt to the banking system,” but added that this is not possible as all his bank accounts have been frozen and assets sealed or seized.
“Whatever may be the consequences I may face for my actions, the haste was, in my humble submission, unwarranted,” Modi concluded and requested the bank to permit him to pay the salaries to 2,200 employees from the balance lying in the current accounts of his firms.
(With inputs from agencies)