New Delhi, Feb 26: A team of Punjab National Bank‘s Brady House branch may have inadvertently alerted diamond merchants, Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, in November about impending action against them. The new team had expressed concerns at the issuance of fraudulent Letters of Credit (LC) and Letters of Undertaking (LoU), allegedly by previous staff of the branch to firms associated with Modi and Choksi. It is reported that the duo had started planning their exit from the nation soon after. Also Read - ED Brings Back Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi’s Jewellery Worth Rs 1,350 Crore From Hong Kong to India
An official linked to the investigation told Indian Express that after new staff replaced the old at the Brady House branch of PNB, the new staff refused to carry out fraudulent transactions. Two senior employees, who were instrumental in issuing the LoUs, left in November and are holed up in Dubai, the source said. (Also read: CBI Registers Rs 97 Crore Loan Default Case Against UP Based Simbhaoli Sugars Ltd) Also Read - PNB Scam: Nirav Modi Remanded in Custody by UK Court Until April 15
It is reported that Modi fled the country with his brother Nishal, a Belgian citizen, and his wife on January 1; Choksi left on January 6. Modi and his family reportedly fled to the United States. Also Read - PNB Scam: UK Court Rejects Nirav Modi's Bail Plea For Fifth Time
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has written to five banks–Axis Bank, Allahabad Bank, State Bank of India, UCO Bank and Union Bank of India– seeking data as to buyer’s credit used by Modi and Choksi’s firms. This information will be used to initiate the formal process to seek cooperation from foreign countries in the probe.
The sources said that the bank might suffer Rs 3,000 crore potential loss as the LoUs reach maturity in the future. These fraudulent LoU’s and LC’s were allegedly issued by accused Gokulnath Shetty. The CBI suspects that Shetty might have issued letters worth Rs 5,000 crore in 2017 alone, as he was retiring.
Investigative agencies are trying to ascertain whether money was wired through shell companies and used for buying prime properties in Mumbai and Delhi by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.
“The funds were routed to Firestar through a web of companies and used by Modi and Choksi for personal gains. They bought many prime properties. Last year’s purchase of the famous music store, Rhythm House in Mumbai, by Modi for Rs 32 crore is one such property,” an official told Express.
Sources said Modi and Choksi paid huge sums of money to their employees as their salaries. Two chartered accountants were hired for Rs 3.5 crore per annum. Other officials were also paid hefty salaries, which were much more than the industry norm. An official told Express that his salary was increased from Rs 18 lakh to Rs 50 lakh per annum– he quit the company as he realised that he would be asked to do something illegal.