The Congress party on Thursday called Nirav Modi, the billionair jeweller in ED net for 11,400 crore fraud, "Chota Modi", and also flashed his photograph with Prime Minister Modi at Davos, leaving the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) sulking in rage.
Nirav's fraud was revealed in the third week of January, when his companies sought a fresh loan from PNB, which is India's second-largest state-run bank. PNB said in its statement that the fraud was discovered through the SWIFT trail when the official allegedly in cahoots with Modi had retired and one of his companies reached out for a loan.
Nirav's brother Nishal, a Belgian citizen, also left the country on January 1, while wife Ami, a USA citizen, and business partner Mehul Choksi, the Indian promoter of Gitanjali jewellery chain, departed on January 6, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday conducted raids on premises linked to billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi in three States - four locations in Mumbai, including Modi's office and showroom in Kala Ghodathree; in Surat; and two in Delhi - in connection with the fraudulent transactions in the PNB, said media reports quoting ED sources. "Steps are being taken to protect the financial interest of the bank", he added. It did not name the banks or the customers.
"They have to bite the bullet and take on bureaucrats and the bank employee unions and actually fix banks' governance or India will struggle to maintain its growth projections". The fall had wiped 68.6 billion rupees, or 21 per cent, off PNB's market value. The bank alleged that the bank officials had fraudulently issued eight Letters of Understanding (LoUs) totalling U.S. $ 4.42 crore (equivalent to Rs 280.70 crore) for Hong Kong-based Allahabad Bank and Axis Bank.
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"How can Nirav Modi and [his business partner] Mehul Choksi defraud the entire banking system through forged Letters of Understanding under the nose of the Modi government?"
Now, letters of credit are a common banking practice, which is used to obtain funds from branches of other banks.
"Guide to looting India by Nirav Modi -1".
Officials said that the accused businessman had fled India much before CBI was approached for a probe.
Though the scam involving Punjab National Bank is to the tune of ₹11,400 crore, Mr. Surjewala said banking experts believe it will be around ₹30,000 crore once the exposure of other banks to companies owned by Mr. Chokshi and Mr. Modi are known.