The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday arrested three officers of Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch in South Mumbai, where the transactions related to the banking fraud involving billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi had taken place. The agency had sealed the branch on Sunday.
Bechhu Tiwari, the chief manager in charge of foreign exchange, was among the three arrested, ANI reported. The other two were officers Yashwant Joshi and Praful Sawant.
Earlier in the day, the agency questioned 13 officials of the bank and four employees of Nirav Modi’s jewellery company, ANI reported. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate continued with its raids at showrooms of companies associated with Modi and his maternal uncle, Mehul Choksi, reports said.
Nirav Modi has been booked for fraud and accused of cheating Punjab National Bank in a Rs 11,380-crore scam. The scam involved bank officials allegedly handing out fake Letters of Understanding on behalf of companies associated with Modi, which allowed him to access massive foreign exchange loans that were completely unsecured.
On Sunday, the Central Bureau of Investigation took control of the Brady House branch in Mumbai and began an intensive search operation, PTI reported. The searches are expected to continue through Monday.
Earlier in the day, reports said that the agency began questioning five more officials connected with the bank, apart from the officials it arrested on Saturday. Vipul Ambani, the chief financial officer of Modi’s Firestar Diamond, was among those questioned, officials told PTI. The CBI said Ambani was holding the post for more than three years and is believed to have been aware of the financial transactions.
Meanwhile, in a stock exchange filing, two senior management officials of Gitanjali Gems announced their resignations. The company’s Chief Financial Officer Chadrakant Karkare cited personal reasons for stepping down while the firm’s Company Secretary and Compliance Officer Pankhuri Warange said her “conscience does not permit me to continue with my position”.
CVC asks Punjab National Bank for report on lapses
The Central Vigilance Commission on Monday summoned senior officials from the Punjab National Bank to discuss the alleged lapses in monitoring that led to the scam. It asked the bank and the Finance Ministry for a report in the next 10 days on how the scam was possible when there were regulations in place.
The Central Vigilance Commission also asked for the names of the officials who could have prevented the scam from taking place. Officials from the bank, the Department of Financial Services and the Reserve Bank of India gave a two-hour presentation to the anti-corruption agency, ANI reported.
After this meeting, the commission met officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation who said the scam was a result of “systems failures at multiple levels”.