New Delhi: Just a week after the CBI filed first case against Nirav Modi for a scam in Punjab National Bank (PNB), the accused withdrew large sums of money from a bank in Antwerp, Belgium owned by the Government. Top officials commented over the issue as shocking as all the overseas centres of India banks were put on high alert on 31 January itself. The very same day the investigating agency too filed the FIR against Nirav Modi along with his brother Neeshal Modi, wife Ami Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi. The officials refused to give details of the public sector bank involved and said that several accounts were already frozen after Nirav Modi had managed to cash the money.
“We have also received reliable information that Nirav Modi was in the US when the transaction took place. His pugmarks were spotted and reported to us. But, we lost the trail in the first week of March,” officials said.
After the report of a total rupees 13,000 crore bank fraud, the agencies had demanded information from overseas centres of Indian banks that were involved in doing business with the companies established by Nirav Modi along with his uncle Mehul Choksi. The CBI had said Nirav Modi owned Firestar Group companies and was sanctioned credit limits under consortium. In the case of Firestar International Limited, PNB was the leading bank involved and in the account of Firestar Diamonds International Private Limited, Union Bank of India was the bank involved.
“The bank officials have also been quizzed over local auditors of overseas centres of Indian banks with exposure to the Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi case. They have not been able to produce all the requisite documents to ascertain Nostro account reconciliation and whether red flags were raised about the transactions with the corresponding banks. We had asked for the documents related to two Indian banks operating in Hong Kong, however, they are yet to respond. The auditor’s role in the overseas centre also needs to be probed once we receive the information required for the immediate investigation,” officials pointed out.
PNB had put up the allegation that its officials mainly Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Karat of Brady House branch in Mumbai fraudulently issued LoUs without even following bank’s prescribed procedures of obtaining required request applications, documents, approval of the authorities. And, these officials without making entries at all in the banking system, transmitted SWIFT instructions to the overseas branches of the Indian bank under buyer’s credit. The PNB officers also issued Foreign Letter of Credit (FLCs) by entering a very smaller amount in trade finance module of CBS system and got the reference number generated for the purpose. Subsequently, SWIFT message was sent for the said amount. Without making any general change in trade finance module of CBS system the conniving officers sent modified SWIFT message for an enhanced amount under the same reference to the beneficiary bank.