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Indian police arrest 3 over $1.8bn bank fraud case

Indian police arrest 3 over $1.8bn bank fraud case

Amongst arrested are Gokulnath Shetty, the then Deputy Manager (now Retired) of Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Manoj Kharat, SWO (single window operator) PNB and Manoj Hemant Karat, Authorised Signatory of the Nirav Modi Group of Firms.

The Income-Tax Department today attached nine bank accounts of Gitanjali Gems, its promoter Mehul Choksi and others in connection with a tax evasion probe against them.

The irony and the injustice of Modi managing to obtain over Rs 11,300 crore for his businesses illegally from banks while regular customers have to run from pillar to post to secure the correct Know Your Customer documents to conduct financial transactions did not escape social media commentators. He was just a clerk and typed the letters due to pressure from Gokulnath Shetty.

Moreover, it said, accused Kharat was reportedly not cooperating with investigators and hence their custodial interrogation was required. They were sent to CBI custody for 14 days by a Mumbai court, which said the scam has "consequences for the economy of the nation" and that it was a "very serious offence".

Kudrat Sheikh, the lawyer of Manoj Kharat said that the latter has no role in the said case and was coerced to work.

Chidambaram reiterated that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government which preceded Modi's couldn't be accused of complacency, for the first complaint related to the alleged scam was made in 2015.

Officials of the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation expanded their search operation on properties linked to the accused.

They are Krishnan Sangameshwaran, Nazura Yashjaney, Gopal Das Bhatia, Aniyath Shivraman, Dhanesh Vrajlal Sheth, Jyoti Bharat Vora, Anil Umesh Haldipur, Chandrakant Kanu Karkare, Pankhuri Abhijeet Varange, and Mihir Bhaskar Joshi.

The PNB fraud pertains to issuance of fake Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) to companies associated with billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi by errant PNB employees, which enabled these companies to raise buyers credit from worldwide branches of other Indian lenders.

Shetty was involved in issuing fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoU) without informing the higher authorities on behalf of companies of Modi group and Mehul Choksi for seven years.

Meanwhile, BJP minister Nirmala Sitharaman has alleged that the wife of Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi is a shareholder in one of Nirav Modi's companies.

He said the bank has lent $212 million to Modi on the basis of LoU issued by PNB.

Simultaneously, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday launched nationwide raids on 26 premises, including offices, showrooms and workshops of Nirav Modi.

The scale of the scams has actually triggered a variety of probes into the loan provider, in addition to into Nirav Modi, his uncle Choksi and business connected to both.

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