PNB fraud: Nirav Modi’s scam is worth Rs 23,780 cr, says CBI
Diamond merchant Nirav Modi faces a tougher battle against extradition as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a supplementary charge sheet filed before a special court in Mumbai on Friday stated that Modi, along with other accused in the case, had siphoned off an additional ₹6,498.20 crore from Punjab National Bank through 150 fraudulent letters of undertaking (LOUs) issued between February and May 2017. The total value of the fraud, according to CBI, amounts to ₹23,780 crore.
CBI has also levelled against Modi charges of threatening key witnesses, and of destroying evidence. It says it has found audio clips where Modi is heard threatening witnesses.
A Limosin, senior special public prosecutor for CBI, said, “The additional evidence found where Modi has been heard threatening witnesses, coupled with destruction of evidence, and the charges of the fraud amount having increased to more than Rs 23,000 crore will enhance our chances of getting Modi extradited from the United Kingdom.”
CBI has also made five other persons as accused in the fraud, including Modi’s brother Nehal Modi; PNB’s deputy general manager Sanjay Prasad; Mihir Bhansali, a business associate of Modi; Sandeep Mistry, director of Fancy Creations Ltd, Hong Kong; and Amit Magia, former vice-president of Firestar International Pvt Ltd.
The CBI charge sheet states that 150 LOUs were issued between February 9, 2017 and May 23, 2017 in the name of three firms of the Nirav Modi group, viz, M/s Diamonds R US, M/s Solar Exports and M/s Stellar Diamond, to siphon off Rs 6498.20 crore.
The LOUs were issued in connivance with the then deputy general manager of the bank Gokulnath Shetty by claiming import of pearls without having any sanctioned limit of Buyers Credit and without providing 100 per cent cash margin that is otherwise required in the absence of a sanctioned limit. The import of pearls was supposedly to be made from 18 companies registered in Dubai and Hong Kong, all of which belonged to Nirav Modi.
CBI further states that 123 of the 150 LOUs were used to repay the liabilities of the three companies to overseas banks in 2016 and 2017, while the remaining 27 LOUs were issued to make payments to various Modi-controlled firms and entities in Dubai and Hong Kong.
CBI has also stated that Modi was in regular touch with Gokulnath Shetty at PNB, and also after his retirement, and that Shetty had got Rs 2.27 crore as kickback. This money was deposited in the the accounts of Shetty’s wife Ashalatha, brother-in-law Prashant Shetty and mother-in-law Arundhati Shetty between 2014 and 2017. It was deposited in amounts less than Rs 50,000 on several occasions, states the CBI charge sheet.