Punjab National Bank fraud: Big jewellers Gitajali, Ginni, Nakshatra under scanner
Major jewellers Gitanjali, Ginni and Nakshatra have also come under the scanner of various investigating agencies following PNB’s declaration of Rs 11,400 crore fraud, committed allegedly by Nirav Modi. Punjab National Bank (PNB) disclosed this morning that it has detected some fraudulent transactions with financial implication of USD 1.77 billion (about Rs 11,346 crore) and the matter has been referred to law enforcement agencies for the recovery. “Four big jewellers — Gitanjali, Ginni, Nakshatra and Nirav Modi — are under scanner. The CBI and Enforcement Directorate is looking at their arrangements with various banks and end use of money,” a senior official of a public sector bank told PTI.
No immediate comments were available from these companies. There is strict instruction from the finance ministry to all banks that no big fish should go scot free and no honest borrower is harassed, the official said. Banks are now looking at their systems and processes so that such frauds are not repeated, the official said. All banks have been asked to present a status report as soon as possible, he added. In 2015, Bank of Baroda — another public sector bank — had brought to light a scam in which two Delhi businessmen cheated it of Rs 6,000 crore which slightly less than USD 1 billion at that time. Investigations revealed major irregularities, because the forex transactions were done mainly via advance remittances for import, through newly-opened current accounts. Heavy cash transactions — sometimes four or five times a day — were also noticed.
The Enforcement Directorate, under the revenue department of the finance ministry, had arrested the businessman duo under money laundering provisions. PNB said in a statement that fraudulent transactions took place in one of its branches in Mumbai for the benefit of a few select account holders with their apparent connivance. Based on these transactions, done by his brother Nishal, wife Ami and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi, other banks appear to have advanced money to these customers abroad.
All this was being carried out in connivance with officials as high as Deputy General Manager since 2011. The CBI has received two complaints from the PNB against billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi and a jewellery company alleging fraudulent transactions. Modi, whose jewellery creations are popular among global celebrities, may face a fresh CBI probe as the agency is looking at suitable legal action to be taken in the case. He is already being investigated by the CBI for alleged cheating and fraud involving Rs 280 crore at a PNB branch.