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PNB fraud case: Bank employee got Rs 1 cr bribe in cheque, says CBI

MUMBAI: In the second chargesheet submitted in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, the CBI has alleged that the bank’s retired deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty had received Rs 1 crore as illegal gratification for being part of the conspiracy.
The chargesheet alleged that the bribe amount was routed through one Debajyoti Dutta, proprietor of M/s Rishika Financials, now a witness in the case.
Shetty debited Rs 2.28 crore to Gitanjali Gems’s account with PNB as fees for Dutta for arranging Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) even though the bank had not authorised the LoUs. “Shetty compelled Dutta to part with Rs 1.02 crore as illegal gratification by way of cheques favouring himself and his family members by threatening Dutta of stopping his business,” the chargesheet said.
On Wednesday the investigating agency submitted the voluminous chargesheet in the Rs7,000 fraud case against absconding businessman Mehul Choksi, Allahabad Bank CEO (now divested of all charges) Usha Ananthsubramanium, and 16 other individuals and firms.
On Monday, the CBI submitted the chargesheet against those accused named in the first FIR in the case, including absconding accused Nirav Modi, Ananthsubramanium and 20 other individuals and firms.
The second FIR against Choksi and companies owned by him was registered by the CBI on February 15. It is alleged that the accused in this case had hatched a criminal conspiracy and had defrauded the bank to the tune of Rs7,000 crore. The CBI alleged that the fraud was perpetrated by fraudulently issuing 142 Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) to overseas banks for obtaining buyer’s credit and 58 Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) in favour of the three companies.
CBI said this was done without any sanctioned limit or cash margin and without making entries in the Core Banking System. The CBI said that during the investigations, 52 premises were searched and statements of 59 witnesses were recorded. It further said approximately 2,400 documents have been seized. The investigating agency said it had found evidence connected to six foreign LoUs and six FLCs worth Rs512 crore.
Others named in the chargesheet include arrested PNB employees Manoj Kharat, single-window bank operator (clerk), MK Sharma, internal chief auditor, Bechu Tiwari, chief manager in-charge of forex department, Yashwant Joshi, Scale II manager of the forex department and Prafful Sawant, Scale-I officer handling the exports section. Other PNB employees not arrested but named in the document include executive directors Brahmaji Rao and Sanjiv Saran and general manager, international banking division, Nehal Ahad.

The chargesheet also named former and current employees of Choksi- owned companies: Aniyath Nair, former director of the Choksi-owned M/s Gili India Ltd, Nitin Sahi, manager, Gitanjali group, Kapil Kandelwal, CFO, Nakshatra group and Gitanjali group and Vipul Chitalia, vice president of the Gitanjali Group of Companies. All these accused are currently in judicial custody.

The Choksi-owned firms M/s Gitanjali Gems Ltd, M/s Gili India Ltd and M/s Nakshtra Brand Ltd have also been named in the chargesheet.

During investigation, CBI conducted searches at 52 premises and arrested several persons. A large number of witnesses were examined and voluminous documents collected. In the chargesheet, the CBI has said sanction to prosecute the public servants, including PNB employees Kharat, Tiwari, Joshi, Sawant, Sharma, Rao, Saran and former PNB MD Ananthsubramanium, was awaited from the competent authority.

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