The Punjab National Bank scam involving a Rs11,300 crore fraud by global jeweller Nirav Modi could balloon into a much larger banking industry scam after investigating agencies extended probe to other major jewellers and banks.
Congress has trained all its guns on Prime Minister Modi and accused him of hosting Mehul Choksi, Managing Director of "Gitanjali Gems" and one of the prime accused in the big banking scam, at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence in 2015.
The Enforcement Directorate on Friday also continued its search operations at various properties linked to Modi.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also arrested a third person, Hemant Bhat, whom a source described as the "authorized signatory" of the companies tied to Nirav Modi.
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To another question, Kumar said that neither did the absconding fraud-accused celebrity designer contact any External Affairs Ministry official nor did the ministry have any knowledge about his whereabouts.
Indian banks could take a hit of more than $3 billion from loans and corporate guarantees provided to diamond companies at the centre of a massive alleged fraud at the state-run Punjab National Bank, the tax department has estimated.
The bank has fired 18 employees, while the government has promised it won't "spare anyone".
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The case relates to jeweller Nirav Modi, who was already under investigation following a PNB complaint on January 29 about fraudulent transactions of Rs 280 crore. "Original sin in this episode of Nirav Modi was committed in 2011", Sitharaman told reporters. Modi, who has been accused in a multi-crore banking fraud in India, meanwhile, has been spotted at a plush hotel at NY in the United States, reports said. The agency is probing if bank funds were laundered and the proceeds used by the accused to create illegal assets. Modi's wife Ami, a USA citizen, left on January 6 and his uncle Choksi departed on January 4, the officials said. "Neither my wife, sons nor me have anything whatsoever to do with Gitanjali or Nirav Modi companies".
Punjab National Bank has shared information with other banks that might be impacted by the fraud, Mehta said, but he declined to name them. Mehul Choski is being portrayed as the kingpin of all these frauds and the attention of investigators is now passing on to companies like Gitanjali Gems, Diamond R Us, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and 150 shell companies. Diffusion notices - requests for cooperation - have been issued against the three members of the Modi family and Choksi.
"The fraud in PNB is a case of operational risk arising on account of delinquent behaviour by one or more employees of the bank and failure of internal controls".
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