No visible possibility of Gitanjali, Nirav dues recovery: ICICI, Axis bank officials

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Mumbai, March 7 : Top officials of ICICI and Axis banks have told an anti-fraud agency that recovery of loans worth Rs 1,000 crore seemed impossible from the Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Group of companies.

According to sources, ICICI Bank Executive Director N.S. Kannan and Axis Bank Deputy Managing Director V. Srinivasan, who appeared before the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) in Mumbai on Tuesday, told investigators that there was “no visible possibility” of recovering the money from the companies owned by fugitive jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

Kannan told the anti-fraud agency, which comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and probes white-collar economic crimes, that its exposure to these entities was Rs 800 crore.

ICICI Bank in a regulatory filing in the BSE on Wednesday clarified that the bank has “no exposure to the Nirav Modi group of companies, nor has the bank issued any Letter of Undertaking; nor has any buyer’s credit exposure against LoUs with respect to Nirav Modi group of companies as well as the Gitanjali group of companies.”

It, however, added: “The bank is a part of the working capital lender consortium in the Gitanjali group of companies along with several other banks wherein its exposure is not the largest.”

Srinivasan also confirmed that his bank had lent Rs 200 crore to the two groups.

In another regulatory filing, Axis Bank said: “…we would like to state that exposure of Axis Bank to these entities (Nirav Modi and Gitanjali group of companies) is approximately Rs 200 crore.”

According to the sources, both said that there was “no visible possibility of any recovery”.

The anti-fraud agency on Tuesday asked ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma to appear in person or send representatives to explain to SFIO how much their banks had lent to jeweller Nirav Modi and his partner and uncle Mehul Choksi. The two have fled the country.