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India arrests 3 linked to billionaire jeweller in bank scam

18 February 2018, 05:10 | Vera Richards

Jeweller and diamond trader Nirav Modi

Jeweller and diamond trader Nirav Modi

The finance ministry is working with the Prime Ministers Office to resolve the Rs 11,400 crore scam at Punjab National Bank and the government will try to extradite and punish Nirav Modi - alleged to be behind the fraud - Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said today.

Punjab National Bank, India's second-largest state lender, said on Wednesday two junior officers at a single branch had illegally steered $1.77 billion in fraudulent loans to companies, a lot of them controlled by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi.

The Income Tax Department has also extended a probe into Modi and his group companies, looking into possible tax evasion and suspected investment of illegal funds, a spokeswoman told Reuters on Saturday. The documents that were gathered also included the groups' exposure related to multiple banks, including PNB. He will be accompanied by Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of PNB. CVC is the fourth Government agency after ED, CBI and IT Department which has swung into action.

"We will try to extradite Nirav Modi and punish him for the fraud he has done", Shukla said.

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They will be produced on Saturday before CBI special court in Mumbai.

According to PNB, a deputy manager and a single window operator (relatively lower-level officials) were responsible for issuing LoUs and FLCs worth hundreds of millions or dollars and these were not reported in the core banking solution system of the bank which tracks all transactions.

The CBI had received the complaint from PNB on January 28 and a case was registered in the case on January 31. Involvement and connivance of insiders and outsiders can not be ruled out and there is possibility that a number of senior officials of PNB are involved in the fraud, according to the CBI. Kharat was picked up from his farmhouse in Karjat.

FIR against the rest of Rs 11,300 crore raised by Nirav Modi companies through fraud on PNB is yet to be filed, except for the first FIR which was filed by the CBI for an amount of Rs 280.7 crore on January 29. They questioned these officials in presence of two arrested bank employee.

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"He has taken money from people's pockets and put it into the banking sector and now his friends and cronies are stealing it from the banking sector and the prime minister is not saying anything", he alleged.

This was brought to the notice of the Reserve Bank of India by the overseas bank, which immediately asked PNB for an explanation.

The agency has also directed all the accused companies Gitanjali Gems, Gili, Nakshatra, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds, and Diamonds RUs not to carry out sale and purchases at any stores or outlets of their companies. Sources in the ED stated that they first task to seize as much properties as they cannot only in India but overseas.

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