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PNB fraud case: More than 100 shell companies under ED scanner, 3 bank officials remanded to police custody

The companies being investigated were allegedly used by Indian jewellers Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems’ Mehul Choksi to route funds.

business Updated: Feb 20, 2018 22:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PNB fraud,Punjab National Bank,Nirav Modi
A security guard stands guard inside a Nirav Modi showroom during a raid by Enforcement Directoratein New Delhi on February 15.(REUTERS)

The Enforcement Directorate is investigating more than 100 “shell companies” that are suspected to be involved in the Punjab National Bank’s near $1.8 billion fraud (around Rs 11,400 crore), a government source said on Tuesday.

The companies were allegedly used by Indian jewellers Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems’ Mehul Choksi to route funds, a source at Enforcement Directorate told Reuters.

“The agency is investigating 79 shell companies owned by Gitanjali Group chief and 41 companies owned by Modi in India,” an ED official told IANS on condition of anonymity. He also said that the agency is examining if the money taken from the bank was diverted to these shell companies.

Meanwhile, the three Punjab National Bank officials, who were arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday in the multicrore fraud , were produced before a special CBI court on Tuesday and were remanded to police custody up to March 3.

CBI informed the court that the three arrested officials are attached with the foreign exchange (for-ex) department of the bank’s Brady house branch in Mumbai and deliberately overlooked the illegal acts of other key accused officials, who have already been arrested in the case (two – one retired officer and a suspended officer).

On Tuesday evening the accused Bechhu Tiwari chief manager, in charge of the for-ex department, Yashwant Joshi, a manager in the for-ex department, and Praful Sawant, and officer in the same department were produced before Special CBI judge SR Tamboli.

In a separate development, the Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the police to investigate cheating allegations against Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi in an FIR lodged in 2016 by the owner of one of its retail franchises.

A bench of justice Mukta Gupta asked the police to file a report on the matter while noting that the probe was on a standstill as the complainant and the accused were trying to negotiate a settlement.

The bench, however, said the interim protection from any coercive action granted to Choksi in April last year will continue.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 17:59 IST