PNB fraud: Bank's former chief auditor sent to CBI remand till March 14

CBI has so far arrested at least 14 people, eight from the bank and six from companies owned by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

PNB fraud: Bank's former chief auditor sent to CBI remand till March 14

New Delhi: A Mumbai court on Friday sent Punjab National Bank's (PNB), Internal Chief Auditor (retired) Bishnubrata Mishra to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) remand till March 14 in connection with over Rs 12,000 crore scam.

Yesterday, Sharma was arrested by the central agency. He was responsible for auditing the systems and practices of the PNB for the period 2011-2015 in the Brady House Branch in Mumbai.

CBI has so far arrested at least 14 people, eight from the bank and six from companies owned by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, who owns Gitanjali Gems Ltd.

Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have been accused of colluding with PNB officials to secure unauthorised loans between 2011 and 2017, mostly from the overseas branches of public sector banks. They left India in January before the fraud was unearthed, but have denied the charges through letters and statements.

On Thursday CBI Inspector D Damodaran in the court filing said, Sharma was the internal chief auditor at the Brady House branch in Mumbai “who was supposed to verify the daily transactions, report the irregularities and ensure that the same are rectified to protect the interest of the bank,” reported news agency Reuters.

But he,“in conspiracy with other co-accused persons, deliberately ignored to point out the issuance of illegal” letters of undertaking (LOUs) for companies owned by Modi and Choksi to raise loans from other banks, the inspector added.

Meanwhile, Sharma’s lawyer Apoorv Vijay Singh told the court on Thursday that his client “had no opportunity to know about the messages” sent on international payments platform SWIFT by other bank officials as he did not have access to SWIFT, reported news agency Reuters.

Country's second-largest state-run lender has accused two low-level employees of the Brady House branch, where Sharma also worked, of issuing the LoUs without making corresponding entries in the bank’s main software, helping the fraud go undetected for years.

The scam, which allegedly started in 2011, was detected in the third week of January this year, after which the PNB officials filed a complaint with the CBI on January 31. 

 

(With agency inputs)

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