THE CENTRAL Bureau of Investigation told a special court on Tuesday that Punjab National Bank had given an additional complaint on February 22, claiming a further fraud in respect of Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) issued to accused including Gitanjali Gems and its managing director, Mehul Choksi, raising the fraud amount to Rs 7,080.86 crore in one of the two FIRs in the case.
This takes the fraud amount, as per the CBI, in both cases involving Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi to above Rs 13,580 crore.
The CBI had earlier claimed that in the investigation initiated after receiving a complaint from the PNB in January, it was found that fraudulent Letters of Understanding (LoUs) were issued by bank officials for the benefit of Modi’s firms to the tune of Rs 6,500 crore so far.
“PNB filed a supplementary complaint for defrauding PNB (sic) in the sanctioned limit of the marginally noted companies-Gitanjali Gems, Gili India Ltd. Nakshatra Brand Ltd and Asmi Jewellery India Ltd for an additional amount of Rs 942.18 crore. The total amount therefore allegedly defrauded by the accused till date is about Rs 7,080.86 crore during the period 2013-17,” the CBI submitted before the court.
The CBI had claimed that PNB officials in connivance with the accused issued the LoUs and FLCs without following bank regulations, including rules like seeking 100 per cent margin. The CBI has also arrested officials of the Brady House branch of PNB for their alleged involvement in the fraud. On Tuesday, the CBI also sought permission to add an additional section against the accused in one of the two FIRs. The CBI said that it had come to light during investigation that the accused had committed gross violations of bank guidelines for the benefit of the accused including Choksi.
CBI special prosecutor A Limosin submitted that the investigating agency wanted to add section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant or by banker, merchant or agent) of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, one of the accused, Rajesh Jindal, general manager, (credit) at the PNB head office in New Delhi, has applied for bail. The court has directed the CBI to file its reply and will hear the plea on Thursday.
The PNB, however, later issued a clarification stating that the Rs 942 crore was not a ‘new fraud’ but recall of credit limits. “The amount of Rs 942 cr were the regular limits sanctioned to Geetanjali Group under consortium lending, and were standard credit exposure at the time of detection of the fraud. Now, this exposure is being added to the existing fraudulent amount. This amount has nothing to do with any new fraudulent LoUs/LoCs,” the PNB clairification said.