Nirav Modi gave vague offers to repay money, says PNB chief Sunil Mehta

The country's second largest PSU bank has detected Rs 11,400 crore scam, where billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent LoU from a Mumbai branch.

Nirav Modi gave vague offers to repay money, says PNB chief Sunil Mehta

New Delhi: Scam-hit government-owned lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) today said Nirav Modi, who allegedly defrauded the bank of about Rs 11,400 crore, has come up with "some vague offers" to repay the amount, even as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) continued raids at properties connected with the jeweller designer.

The country's second largest PSU bank has detected a $1.77 billion (about Rs 11,400 crore) scam where billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoU) from a branch in Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other Indian lenders.

Today, ED conducted multiple searches in connection with a money laundering case against jewellery designer Nirav Modi and others following a complaint by PNB.

Addressing a press conference here, PNB Managing Director and Chief Executive Sunil Mehta also said the bank will take "full-capacity" action against the wrongdoers in the fraud case, which started in 2011.

PNB has suspended 10 officers over the scam and referred the matter to the CBI for investigations. Mehta said the bank detected the fraud and has referred the matter to the law enforcement agencies.

"Nirav Modi has not come out with any concrete plan to repay so far. But they're coming out with some vague offers, which are under examination," Mehta said. Mehta further said he has not come to the bank "personally" and "we have requested to him to come and give us a written plan and how he is going to make a repayment". He said Modi had he sent a formal message last week.

On questions regarding recovery of the amount, Mehta said the process has been initiated and the Enforcement Directorate has started seizing assets.

"We are trying to protect the interest of all the lenders," he said. He said the bank was examining its whole system.

"If we find any loopholes, we will plug them up," he said, adding it was a standalone case limited to one of its branches in Mumbai. He also said all other branches of the bank have been scanned to check any fraudulent activity.

Mehta further said that the government too was examining the issue on the day-to-day basis.

"The matter is under investigation. We have not received any direction from our regulator RBI in the matter but they are our regulator, whatever direction they will give we will comply," Mehta said.

On the amount of provisioning the bank would require to make, the PNB chief said it was difficult to give any technical number "right now" as the matter was under investigation.

He, however said the bank will honour all its bonafide commitments. "We want to convey to all our stakeholders that PNB is pursuing clean banking agenda as a responsible bank."

He also said Forensic audit the bank conduct forensic audit where it has doubt that fraud has been committed and let it be unearth. "This is the thing which is already documented so we may not require it. But if there is need be we may go for it," he said, amid a volley of questions from reporters present on the occasion. The PNB CMD further said the bank has informed all its lenders about case.

"We have issued advisory as well to them. We were the first to inform SEBI about this under the disclosure norms. So all these things are as per our clean banking agenda," Mehta added. In the last 123 years, he said the bank has seen many ups and down.

"The bank at its full capacity will take every action to book wrongdoers. This fraud had started in 2011. Our own bank detected first and told the law enforcement agencies about this. PNB is fully committed to its clean banking policy. That is why we are the first one to detect and report this to the various law enforcement agencies," he said.
PNB shares continued to bleed for the second day in a row, ending with a steep loss of 12 percent at Rs 128.35 apiece on BSE.

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