The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a supplementary chargesheet against fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi and 21 others in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraud case, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday. Choksi has been charged with destruction of evidence, cheating and criminal conspiracy.
The Punjab National Bank scam came to the fore in February 2018 when the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it had detected “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions” worth over Rs 13,000 crore at a branch in South Mumbai.
From the total scam amount, Choksi’s companies are accused of siphoning off Rs 7,080 crore through Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit. His nephew Nirav Modi’s companies have allegedly cheated to the tune of more than Rs 6,498 crore, according to the CBI.
In the supplementary chargesheet filed before a special court in Mumbai, the central agency said 165 Letters of Undertaking and 58 Foreign Letters of Credit were fraudulently issued to Choksi’s companies in 2017. The LoUs are a guarantee given by a bank on behalf of its client to a foreign bank. In case, the client fails to repay the foreign bank, the liability falls on the guarantor bank.
“This supplementary chargesheet after three years shows that it is only an attempt to cover up anomalies that the defence had pointed out in the first chargesheet,” Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal told PTI. “Moreover, the addition of Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for destruction of evidence is not legally tenable as a document becomes evidence only after its filing in the court and the allegations are of a period much prior to the first information report.”
Two officials of the Punjab National Bank – Sagar Sawant and Sanjay Prasad – and the director of the Gili and the Nakshtra brands under the Gitanjali Group of Companies, Dhanesh Seth, have also been named as accused in the supplementary chargesheet.
The timing of filing of the supplementary chargesheet coincides with the legal proceedings against the fugitive diamantaire in a court of Dominica, where he was arrested for illegal entry on May 24. Choksi had been reported missing by his family on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen, after fleeing India before the bank fraud came to light.
On May 25, the government of Dominica declared Choksi a prohibited immigrant. The country’s Internal Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore said in a notice that the police has been instructed to take all necessary actions to have him repatriated in accordance with the procedure laid out in Section 5(1) (1) of the Immigration and Passport Act.