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PNB fraud: CBI arrests former deputy bank manager, person linked to jeweller Nirav Modi

Written by  Published in Crime Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:31
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In the PNB fraud case, authorities have registered a money laundering case against Nirav Modi, one of India’s richest men and jeweller to top Hollywood stars including Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a former employee of the Punjab National Bank who is believed to be key figure in the 11,400-crore fraud disclosed by the country’s second-largest state-run lender earlier this week, a police source said on Saturday. Two other persons were arrested too.

Officials arrested Gokulnath Shetty, a retired deputy manager at Punjab National Bank, and Manoj Kharat, who was described by the source as a “single window operator” at the lender.

They are suspected of steering fraudulent loans to companies linked to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and to entities tied to jewellery retailer Gitanjali, which is led by Modi’s uncle, Mehul Choksi.

The agency also arrested a third person, Hemant Bhat, whom the source described as the “authorised signatory” of the companies tied to Modi, the billionaire jeweller believed to be at the centre of the bank fraud.

All three will appear in a Mumbai court later on Saturday, the source said.

They were taken into custody by the agency in connection with an FIR registered on January 31 against Modi, his companies and Choksi.

These were the first arrests so far in the country’s biggest-ever bank scam. PNB is the country’s second-largest state-run lender.

The investigation and “examination of others is continuing,” the source said.

The CBI FIR has listed eight fraudulent transactions worth over Rs 280 crore, but based on further complaints from the bank the CBI now says the amount investigated in the first FIR is over Rs 6,498 crore, involving 150 Letters of Understanding (LoUs) allegedly fraudulently issued by Shetty and Kharat.

The remaining 150 fraudulent LOUs worth over Rs 4,886 crore issued for Gitanjali group of companies are part of the second FIR registered on Friday by the agency against Choksi and his companies Gitanjali Gems, Nakshatra Brands and Gili, officials said.

The government said on Friday that the passports of Modi and Choksi have been suspended for four weeks and would be revoked if they did not provide a response amid reports that the 47-year-old Modi had left the country.

Officials searched Modi’s Mumbai offices on Thursday, a day after PNB said it had detected fraud at a branch in the city.

PNB’s disclosure has sparked a widening probe involving various authorities.

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.

“We have provisionally attached 29 properties and 105 bank accounts of Nirav Modi and his group companies in the PNB bank fraud case,” she said. Source : ht




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