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PNB fraud case: CBI suspects most documents related to LoUs may have been destroyed

Punjab National Bank has alleged that companies connected to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, his maternal uncle, committed a fraud of Rs 12,600 crore in connivance with bank officials.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 08:43 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PNB fraud,CBI,Punjab National bank
The logo of Punjab National Bank is seen on the facade of its office in Mumbai.(Reuters)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to recover most documents related to the fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) issued by Punjab National Bank (PNB) to companies controlled by jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, prime suspects in a fraud estimated at Rs. 12,600 crore. The agency suspects that some of the documents may have been destroyed.

LoUs are essentially bank guarantees that allow clients to raise credit from the foreign branches of other Indian banks.

Court documents seen by Hindustan Times show CBI on March 5 informed a Mumbai special court of the preliminary findings of its investigation.

PNB has alleged that companies connected to Modi and Choksi, his maternal uncle, committed a fraud of Rs 12,600 crore in connivance with bank officials, in the issuance of LoUs and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLC). All these LoUs and FLCs were issued by only one branch, located at Brady House in Mumbai.

CBI has so far arrested about 18 suspects in the case including officials of PNB and executives of firms controlled by Modi and Choksi.

“Investigation conducted so far revealed that Sh Rajesh Jindal (one of the arrested suspects) was posted as branch manager, PNB Brady House branch, Mumbai during the period 2009-2011 and during his tenure he allowed Sh Gokulnath Shetty, Deputy Manager (another arrested suspect) to continue issuing LoUs without following existing banking procedures, policy guidelines of the bank and the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) guidelines.”

“The documents in respect of the LoUs issued during this period are yet to be recovered as the bank (PNB) has mentioned that documents pertaining to LoUs are not available in the Branch and it is likely that he may have destroyed or removed the same,” CBI submitted before the special court.

CBI also told the court that the practice of illegal issuance of LoUs in the Brady House Branch had been going on since 2010.

“Most of these documents are not yet recovered,” CBI in said in court.

A CBI official said the agency was making efforts to trace the documents.

“Recently we recovered documents from a ‘chawl’ in central Mumbai’s Wadala area where the accused had deliberately kept them, so that they do not land in the hands of investigators,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 08:01 IST