PNB fraud: HC grants bail to Gitanjali group VP Vipul Chitalia
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday granted bail to former vice-president of Gitanjali Group Vipul Chitalia, who was arrested in March 2018 in connection with the ₹13,850 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank
Mumbai: The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday granted bail to former vice-president of Gitanjali Group Vipul Chitalia, who was arrested in March 2018 in connection with the ₹13,850 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank.
Chitalia is a co-accused with the fugitive diamond trader and the group’s promoter Mehul Chokshi.
The single-judge bench of justice Bharati Dangre, while hearing Chitalia’s bail application was informed by advocate Vijay Aggarwal that he had been in jail for four and a half years and other co-accused in the case had been granted bail immediately after arrest.
Chitalia, who was granted interim bail in April this year to attend his daughter’s marriage, had approached the HC after a special court rejected his bail application on December 4, 2020. Aggarwal had submitted that a co-accused who signed LOUs with Chitalia was granted bail soon after the first chargesheet was filed and hence he should be granted bail too.
He was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the Prevention of Corruption Act for his alleged role in the massive fraud at the public sector bank.
After arresting him, the CBI filed a chargesheet and supplementary chargesheet running into more than 45,000 pages and in June when the court asked why it was taking so long to complete the investigation, CBI stated that the investigation was still on and a further chargesheet would be filed and hence Chitalia should not be released on bail.
On Thursday, advocate Hiten Venagaonkar for CBI reiterated the stand of the agency and opposed the bail application. He said Chitalia was the masterminds in perpetuating the fraud along with Choksi as he was one of the two authorised signatories of the group to issue applications for securing fraudulent Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) from PNB.
According to the CBI, the fugitive diamond trader had used the fraudulent LoUs to defraud the public sector bank to the tune of ₹7,080.86 crore through his Gitanjali group of companies. The central agency claimed that the entities controlled by Mehul Choksi also enjoyed credit exposure from a consortium of 32 banks which had reported outstanding balances of ₹5,099.74 crore as on 31st December 2017 as regards Choksi’s Gitanjali group.
In August, last year, a special CBI court granted temporary bail to Chitalia to attend the pre-marriage ceremony of his daughter and in April this year, HC granted him temporary bail to attend his daughter’s marriage.