PNB scam: ED raids two locations in Kolkata

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THE SERIOUS Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) on Wednesday questioned Sunil Mehta, managing director and chief executive officer of Punjab National Bank (PNB), for about six hours in connection with the Rs 12,700 crore fraudulent transactions routed through the bank by the firms of billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi.

Yesterday, officials from Axis Bank and ICICI Bank had also appeared before SFIO, which is the investigating arm of the ministry of corporate affairs.

The CBI and the ED have registered FIRs to probe the case and intensified the crackdown on Nirav Modi and Choksi with the ED seizing jewellery and assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, the I-T department attaching various properties, and the CBI grilling several senior executives of his company.

The former union minister said the three accused Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Jatin Mehta, are involved in bank frauds to the tune of Rs 27,000 crore and alleged that all of them had access to the government and to its leadership.

In a statement to the stock exchange late on Tuesday, Axis said the SFIO had sought information from it on the accounts of Nirav Modi and Choksi's Gitanjali group of companies.

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An ED officials said that the directorate will issue Letters Rogatory to over 15 countries against Nirav Modi and Choksi. Its exposure to the Gitanjali group, it said, is not the largest among the lenders in the consortium.

Targeting Modi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy leader Anand Sharma said the prime minister should "speak up" on the bank frauds.

"The Prime Minister's Office, RBI, Serious Fraud Information Office (SFIO) and the Enforcement Directorate received complaints".

According to the CBI, Chitalia is the mastermind of the fraud and he was arrested on airport as a Look Out Circular (LOC) were issued against him.

Reports quoting sources said investigators have not yet recovered all the papers and loan guarantees allegedly issued by rogue employees of the bank, which they believe could lead to greater exposure of the bank to the fraud. Audits by the Reserve Bank of India had found that Axis Bank had under-reported its gross NPAs.

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