Congress attacks PM on PNB scam, calls it ‘biggest bank loot’

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New Delhi, Feb 16: The Congress on Friday continued its belligerent attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed that the PNB fraud of over Rs 11,000 crore was India’s biggest “bank loot scam” and has got bigger to touch Rs 21,306 crore.

The party asked why the government was silent on the issue and how did it and the agencies permit billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others to leave India.

Mumbai: A day after a massive $1.8 billion fraud was unearthed in a PNB branch in Mumbai, the Enforcement Directorate launched a nationwide raid on billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi's the offices, showrooms and workshops.The multi-pronged action came a day after the Punjab National Bank admitted to unearthing a fraud of Rs 11,515 crore involving Modi's companies and certain other accounts with the bank's flagship branch (Brady House) in Mumbai and its second largest lending window in India.The fraud, which includes money-laundering among others, concerns the Firestar Diamonds group in which the CBI last week booked Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and a maternal uncle Mehul Choksi.It is learnt that Modi - whose operations are spread across Europe, the US, Middle East and Far East besides India - has written to PNB and other banks that he would return their outstandings. (Photo: IANS)
Mumbai: A day after a massive $1.8 billion fraud was unearthed in a PNB branch in Mumbai, the Enforcement Directorate launched a nationwide raid on billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi’s the offices, showrooms and workshops.The multi-pronged action came a day after the Punjab National Bank admitted to unearthing a fraud of Rs 11,515 crore involving Modi’s companies and certain other accounts with the bank’s flagship branch (Brady House) in Mumbai and its second largest lending window in India.The fraud, which includes money-laundering among others, concerns the Firestar Diamonds group in which the CBI last week booked Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and a maternal uncle Mehul Choksi.It is learnt that Modi – whose operations are spread across Europe, the US, Middle East and Far East besides India – has written to PNB and other banks that he would return their outstandings.

“Punjab National Bank has already admitted exposure of Rs 11,400 crore in the 293 ‘Letters of Undertaking’ (LoUs).

“In addition, exposure of 30 banks in loans extended to four companies — Firestar International Private Limited, Firestar Diamond Fze, Gitanjali Gems Limited and Gitanjali Exports Corporation — is Rs 9.906 crore,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told mediapersons.

“Thus, total exposure comes to Rs 21,306 crore.”

The leader also said: “In addition to this, PNB stock has depreciated eroding Rs 7,000 crore in value. Incidentally, government owns 57 per cent shares in PNB and the remaining is owned by financial institutions/common investors. If you add the erosion of value, total exposure comes to Rs 28,306 crore.”

“The exposure of banks to three more companies — Diamonds RUS, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds — is yet to be disclosed by the banks and Modi government.

“Experts estimate this exposure to be in the range of Rs 3,000/Rs 5,000 crore. This will further enhance the total figure of the scam,” he added.

Taking a dig at the government’s scheme, he said: “No wonder, ‘UDAAN’ is the buzzword of Modi government, wherein every scamster can fleece and fly – unchecked and undetected.”

The Congress asked what is the total loss to the banks and posed more questions.

“Did the Prime Minister, PMO, ED, Corporate Affairs Ministry, SFIO, SEBI and governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat have prior knowledge of the scam as early as on May 7, 2015? Why did they not take action?

“Does Prime Minister know accused Mehul Choksi? If yes, why is Modi government denying it? Did the PMO, PIB and MEA not tweet the picture of Business Delegation comprising of Nirav Modi with Prime Minister?

“How did the entire fraud escape the four stage audit system of banks? Why did the banks not get alerted despite the withdrawal of ratings by rating agency CARE?” Surjewala asked.