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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

CBI set to file chargesheets in PNB fraud case this month

Between January and March this year, the CBI had filed three FIRs against accused Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and a third against Modi’s Firestar Diamonds.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai |
Updated: May 8, 2018 7:11:04 am
CBI set to file chargesheets in PNB fraud case this month The CBI is also going to enlist the recoveries and the seizures made by the agency, including photo images of a “log book” allegedly maintained by Choksi that purportedly has coded entries of the alleged bribe paid to the officials in cash. (Express photo by Purushottam Sharma/Archives)

THE CBI is set to file the first of its chargesheets in the case involving Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud with focus initially on half-a-dozen fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) and an equal number of foreign letters of credit (FLCs) worth Rs 1,000 crore in the alleged Rs 13,400-crore fraud in the state-owned bank, sources said.

Diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who are absconding, would be named as wanted accused in the chargesheets, they added.

The agency is likely to file the chargesheets between May 15 and May 20, as the 90-day period to file a chargesheet against the 19 arrested accused will come to an end later this month. This is to deter the prospects of the accused seeking bail on the ground that the agency failed to file a chargesheet against them in the stipulated period of 90-days, as mandated under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), sources told The Indian Express.

“While we have recovered documents, including original applications, for seeking loan through LoUs of over 130 of the 144 LoUs mentioned in the first FIR, the chargesheets will concentrate only on half-a-dozen LoUs and an equal number of FLCs, as we have been able to collect evidence to prove that they were fraudulent,” said an official.

“The rest would be covered in supplementary chargesheets. In the chargesheets, we would mention that the probe will continue under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC,” the official said.

The statement of the owner of the Kalbadevi chawl, from where the agency claims to have recovered over “five sacks” filled with documents pertaining to LoUs made to the Bardy House branch of PNB, will be part of the chargesheets, the official added. The apartment was rented in the name of Vipesh Dave, who worked as an accountant with Mehul Choksi’s firm. Statements of Dave and the owner of the apartment, Virendra Aggarwal, were recorded during the course of the probe.

The CBI has also been able to piece together how the funds raised through LoUs and FLCs were routed through off-shore firms, which were shown as ‘importers’, but are suspected to be shell companies floated by the uncle-nephew duo to reroute it to back to India either to square off the old LoUs or buy properties.

“In case of Choksi, we have found that the three Hong Kong-based importers were bogus and these companies were floated by Choksi to reroute the money raised through the LoUs and FLCs. In case of Choksi, more FLCs than LoUs were raised,” the official said.

Between January and March this year, the CBI had filed three FIRs against accused Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and a third against Modi’s Firestar Diamonds. The agency made its first arrest on February 17, including of the alleged key accused Gokulnath Shetty (former deputy general manager of PNB), Manoj Kharat (single window operator of PNB) and Hemant Bhat (authorised signatory of Modi’s company).

On February 20, it made its first high profile arrest by arresting Vipul Ambani, president (finance) of Firestar International. The other arrests include Bechhu Tiwari (then chief manager in the forex department of PNB), Yashwant Joshi (scale II manager in forex department), Praful Sawant (scale I officer handling exports section), Manish Bosamiya (former AGM-operations of Firestar International Limited owned by Modi), Miten Pandia (then financial manager of Firestar), Sanjay Rambhia (auditor of Firestar), Aniyath Shiv Raman Nair (then director of Gili India Ltd, a Gitanjali Group firm owned by Choksi) and Vipul Chitalia (VP banking operations of Gitanjali group).

The CBI is also going to enlist the recoveries and the seizures made by the agency, including photo images of a “log book” allegedly maintained by Choksi that purportedly has coded entries of the alleged bribe paid to the officials in cash. “Images of a log book were found on a computer used by one Sunil Mehta, who was not on the official rolls of Choksi, but used to maintain his accounts. These entries are of cash transactions undertaken by firms written in a code language,” said the official.

Besides, the valuer’s report, who evaluated over 9,000 CVD diamonds seized from a Surat unit belonging to Choksi at just Rs 10 lakh, compared to the Rs 1.06-crore book value of these diamonds, will also find mention in the chargesheet, the official added.

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