PNB fraud fallout: CBI seals Brady House Branch in Mumbai

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Mumbai, Feb 19 (IANS) The CBI on Monday sealed the Brady House Branch of the Punjab National Bank as multiple probe agencies continued with their probe into the Rs 11,515 crore fraud, according to officials.

The Central Bureau of Investigation pasted an official notice outside the branch in Fort — the bank’s flagship lending window in Mumbai and its second largest national outlet.

All have been barred from opening or entering inside this branch without prior permission of the CBI or the CBI Special Court or the CBI Competent Authority. (IANS had first named and identified on February 14 the involvement of this crucial Branch that deals with some of its biggest accounts).

Accordingly, all operations at the Brady House Branch came to a grinding halt and several bewildered staffers were seen waiting outside it for further orders from their bosses.

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The action came two days after the Special CBI Court here remanded to police custody till March 3, three accused in the PNB fraud, including two former staffers.

The accused includes retired PNB Deputy Manager Gokulnath Shetty, Single Window Operator Manoj Kharat and authorized signatory of the prime accused Nirav Modi’s group companies, Hemant Bhatt.

The three were the very first arrests to be in the sensational case so far by the CBI from different parts of Mumbai and Raigad. More arrests were expected soon, officials have indicated.

Besides these, the CBI earlier named 10 other directors and officials as accused in the scam which has created a nationwide furore.

They are: Krishnan Sangameshwaran, Nazura Yashjaney, Gopal Das Bhatia, Aniyath Shivraman, Dhanesh Vrajlal Sheth, Jyoti Bharat Vora, Anil Umesh Haldipur, Chandrakant Kanu Karkare, Pankhuri Abhijeet Varange and Mihir Bhaskar Joshi.

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The prime accused, diamond trader Nirav Modi and other associates fled the country in early January, before the massive PNB fraud came to light.

The multi-pronged action by the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and others comes five days after PNB admitted to unearthing a fraud of Rs 11,515 crore involving Modi’s companies and certain other accounts in the Brady House Branch.

The fraud, which includes money-laundering among others, concerns the Firestar Diamonds group in which the CBI last week booked Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal Modi and their uncle Mehul Choksi.

–IANS

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