The Punjab National Bank is the second biggest public sectore bank in the country.

The Punjab National Bank is the second biggest public sectore bank in the country.

PNB fraud: Assets worth Rs 43 cr of Nirav, Rs 20 cr of Choksi seized

PNB transfers 1,415 employees; CII says gaps in supervision

Agency Report | New Delhi/Mumbai | 23 February, 2018 | 10:40 PM

The ED has frozen diamantaire Nirav Modi's bank account and shares worth Rs 43 crore even as the CBI raided his Mumbai-based Kamala Mills firm and seized documents regarding the Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank fraud probe.

Nirav’s bank account had Rs 30 crore, while the shares were valued at Rs 13.86 crore, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.

A senior Income Tax Department official said on Friday that as of date, 144 bank accounts and fixed deposits of Gitanjali Group owned by Mehul Choksi — with a total credit balance of Rs 20.26 crore — have been attached.

The ED officials also seized a large collection of imported watches from several locations connected to the diamond czar during the searches in the last few days.

A total of 176 steel almirahs, 158 boxes and 60 other containers linked to Nirav Modi have also been seized over the last week by the ED officials.

On Thursday, the agency seized bank deposits, shares and luxury cars worth over Rs 100 crore.

The agency has frozen mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore of Nirav Modi and Rs 86.72 crore of his uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which initiated the probe in the scam, on Friday raided Nirav Modi’s Kamala Mills firm and seized some documents.

The CBI investigators also called and questioned two General Managers and Deputy General Managers of the Mumbai-based PNB’s Brady House branch– the only branch involved in the criminality.

These PNB employees were questioned for the first time in connection with the fraud along with some other employees of the government-owned bank and a few employees of Nirav Modi and Choksi.

CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said a dedicated CBI team is now in the process of wrapping up questioning part by completing documentation of statements already recorded by the arrested persons and those quizzed so far.

CBI investigators are taking help of computer and banking experts in the case and also focusing on the alleged criminality of auditors.

Both the central agencies had conducted multiple raids at the residential and office premises and showrooms of the accused traders ever since the CBI filed two FIRs on February 14-15 against Nirav Modi and the Gitanjali group of firms respectively.

The CBI filed the first FIR against Diamond R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamond whose partners have been named as Nirav Modi, his brother Nishal, uncle Mehul Choksi and wife Ami — who left the country earlier in early January. The FIR mentions fraud of around Rs 6,400 crore.

The second FIR filed on February 15 for Rs 4,886.72 crore fraud against the Gitanjali group headed by Choksi.

Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit were used to raise and rollover the amount over several years before the fraud came to light following PNB’s complaint.
In its bid to bury rumours that 18,000 employees have been transferred following the detection of $1.8 billion fraud, Punjab National Bank (PNB) has clarified it has only transferred 1,415 employees as part of its Rotational Transfer Policy.

“There have been reports appearing in the media that the bank has transferred close to 18,000 employees. The same is factually incorrect as the bank has transferred 257 sub staff, 437 clerks and 721 officers (total 1,415 employees) since February 19, 2018, as per prevailing Rotational Transfer Policy of the bank,” PNB has tweeted.

It further added that the working of the branches is “going on smoothly” and the transfers are in no way affecting the customer service of the bank.

The bank decision to transfer these officials came soon after Rs 11,300 crore fraud was detected in its Brady House branch, in which bank officials were also involved.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 17 had arrested PNB’s retired Deputy Manager, Gokulnath Shetty and its Single Window Operator Manoj Kharat in the multi-crore fraud case.

Both these officials remained in one branch of PNB for several years, while the usual norm is employees getting transferred every two-three years.
Condemning the recently detected $1.8 billion fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB), industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Friday said the incident showed gaps in supervision and monitoring systems at the bank level.

“The current episode of financial fraud shows gaps in supervision and monitoring systems at the bank level which have the potential to become disruptive for the industry and the financial sector both,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

The statement said: “CII condemns such malfeasance by unethical enterprises, which are allegedly perpetrated in consort with certain corrupt employees of the affected banks.”

It further suggested focus on enhancing supervision and monitoring at all levels; infusing professionalism in bank’s management, and dilution of government stake in PSBs to bring them down to 52 percent in the first phase and then further reduce to 33 percent.

It also suggested usage of smart technologies such as blockchain, big data analytics and artificial intelligence in banks.

CII stresses that the Government should consider lowering its stake in public sector banks (PSB) and increasing the equity spread through wider private participation.

“This should be accompanied by consolidation of PSBs to result in fewer but stronger institutions of global scale,” it added.

“CII strongly feels that the current episode of malfeasance calls for focus and facilitation by the regulator to improve monitoring and supervision at the bank level,” the statement said. (IANS)