Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Nirav Modi case: How PNB was defrauded of Rs 11400 crore

Nirav Modi case: How PNB was defrauded of Rs 11400 crore

India's Punjab National Bank (PNB) has detected fraudulent transactions worth $1.77 billion at a single Mumbai branch in a case that could affect more banks and raise fresh questions about lending procedures at Indian banks mired in soured debt.

A day after high-level fraudulent practice to the tune of $1.8 billion in one of the Punjab National Bank's Mumbai branch was reported to the stock exchanges, Sunil Mehta, MD and CEO of the bank, said it "will not spare anyone" involved in the wrongdoing.

It added that the total amount of these transactions was 1,771.69 million dollars.These transactions were limited and the matter is referred to the law enforcement agencies to examine and book the culprits as per the law of the land. The Enforcement Directorate, which investigates frauds involving foreign exchange transactions, was also conducting a probe, Mint newspaper said.

Nirav Modi made it to the Forbes' list of billionaires in 2013 and has remained in the exclusive group ever since. He is the founder of Dollars 2.3 billion Firestar Diamond and has business spread across three continents from China in Asia to Hawaii Islands in North America. In PNB's case, it said the outstanding LoUs were not available on its core banking system run on Infosys's Finacle software, thus the LoUs issued went undetected.

When the bank asked for 100 percent cash margin for the issuance of LoUs, the companies said that they had already availed the service in the past.

Based on these transactions, done by his brother Nishal, wife Ami and business partner Mehul Chinubhai Choksi, other banks appear to have advanced money to these customers overseas.

Union Bank of India, SBI, Allahabad Bank and Axis Bank are said to have offered credit based on letters of undertaking (LOUs) issued by PNB. And on Wednesday, the ED also registered a money laundering case in 2017 cheating case.

Shankar Prasad told a press conference assets worth Rs 1300 crore have been seized and a look-out-notice against Modi has been issued, ANIreported.

PNB has accused three companies - Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and Diamond R United States - it said belong to Nirav Modi, a high-end jeweller who runs his eponymous Nirav Modi stores that spread from NY to Hong Kong.

Modi, his wife, brother and Choksi are partners in these three firms, the CBI FIR said.

On Wednesday, the shares of PNB dropped as much as 9.81 per cent to close at Rs 145.80 a piece. The report said that Modi had written to banks exposed to the scam and said that he would be able to sell Firestar Diamond, which he valued at over Rs 6435 crores, in three to six months to pay off the money owed to them. "In view of these exchanges different banks seem to have propelled cash to these clients overseas", the nation's third biggest open division bank said in its recording.

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