Indian bank hit by $1.8bn fraud case

Indian bank hit by $1.8bn fraud case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued summons for appearance to billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his business partner Mehul Choksi in connection with its money laundering probe in the alleged Rs 11,400 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB), officials said on Friday.

ED teams swooped down and conducted simultaneous raids on Modi's offices, showrooms and diamond workshops in Mumbai, Surat and New Delhi.

The agency also seized stocks of gold, diamond and other precious stones worth Rs 5100 crore. The ED has registered a PMLA case against them and others based on a CBI FIR which was the result of a PNB complaint.

The state-owned bank said it had detected Dollars 1.77 billion fraud in which billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from one its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders.

The Punjab National Bank (PNB) on Thursday said it will take "full-capacity" action against the wrong doers in the Rs 11,400-crore Nirav Modi fraud case, which started in 2011.

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This could be the biggest banking fraud in India as its quantum was bigger than an estimated 9,000 crore scam at erstwhile Satyam computers.

Indian-born diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi is the founder of the $2.3 billion Firestar Diamond and was ranked #57 in the Forbes list of India's billionaires in 2017.

Now when the three firms approached PNB in January this year for buyers credit, they were denied. The news agency, citing officials, reported on Thursday that Modi and his family had left India in early January, before the bank detected either of the two fraud cases.

The PNB scam has affected other Indian banks, according to media reports, because these banks had lent money on the basis of Letter of Understanding (LoU) issued by PNB. PNB has already suspended 10 officers and referred the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"I wish to make it very clear, and this I can also convey on behalf of the Government, that those who sought to derail the ordinary banking system to help Nirav shall not be spared".

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Mehta further said he has not come to the bank "personally" and "we have requested to him to come and give us a written plan and how he is going to make a repayment".

Gitanjali Gems shares continued to slump with a plunge of 20 per cent today.

Accusing the NDA government of trampling upon the entire banking system, Surjewala said risk management system, fraud detection ability' and the regulatory mechanism of banks have been severally compromised under the Modi government.

He said Nirav Modi was not part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's delegation that visited World Economic Forum in Davos.

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