Mumbai, May 14 (IANS) The CBI on Monday filed a chargesheet against Allahabad Bank MD and CEO Usha Ananthasubramanian and 21 others, including 11 bank officials, in the over Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case in which diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi were allegedly involved.
Ananthasubramanian, who was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case, was the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PNB between August 2015 before her appointment in the Allahabad Bank in May 2017.
The agency also named PNB Executive Directors K.V. Brahmaji Rao and Sanjiv Sharan, and General Managers Nehal Ahad (who dealt in international operations) and Rajesh Jindal in its chargesheet filed in a special CBI court here.
CBI officials said the chargesheet names Nirav Modi and his brother Nishal in connection with the issuance of Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) totalling Rs 6,498.20 crore during 2011-17.
They said that a separate chargesheet in the second case involving Choksi will be filed later.
The officials said Nirav Modi and Nishal were beneficiaries of the fraud, authorised signatories, and in the know of the whole scam.
The CBI had filed three FIRs between January and March to probe the PNB fraud. Most of the accused are common to these cases.
The chargesheet filed on Monday is based on CBI’s FIR registered on January 31 against Nirav Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal, and uncle Choksi, among others. The second and third FIRs focus on Choksi, Gitanjali Gems and others.
So far, 15 persons have been arrested while Modi and Choksi fled the country in January.
Modi’s group companies — Diamonds R US, Stellar Diamonds, and Solar Exports — are also named in the chargesheet as borrowers.
Seven employees of Modi’s group of companies — Hemant Bhat, an authorised signatory; Vipul Ambani, President (Finance) of Firestar International; Miten Pandya, then Finance Manager of Firestar; Manish Bosamiya, former AGM of Firestar; Subhash Parab, key Executive (currently absconding); and Arjun Patil and Kavita Mankikar — were also named in the chargesheet.
Chartered Accountant Sanjay Kumar Rambhia is also named in the chargesheet, which also mentions then PNB employees Gokul Nath Shetty (Deputy Manager), who was the first to be arrested, Manoj Kharat (Single Window Operator), Bechu B. Tiwari (Chief Manager), Yashwant Joshi (Manager), Praful Sawant (Officer) and Internal Chief Auditors Mohinder Kumar Sharma and Bishnubrata Mishra.
The chargesheet says that Nirav Modi, Nishal, and other public and private persons conspired for the issuance of fraudulent LoUs in favour of the three firms (named in the chargesheet) without any sanctioned limit, cash margin and making entries in the Core Banking Solution (CBS) system.
Investigators found that the funds were siphoned off to purported overseas supplier firms that was a set-up by Nirav Modi and his firms.
“Senior officials of the PNB did not implement Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circulars on the matter and misrepresented the facts. Reconciliation of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Inter-Bank Financial Telecommunication) messaging system CBS was not done despite repeated caution notices of the RBI,” a CBI official said.
CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said that the CBI has searched 42 premises, arrested 15 persons and questioned 80 witnesses in the case.
A similar fraud was detected in 2016, in which funds under the garb of LoUs were transferred in favour of a Hong-Kong-based company, purportedly issued by the Chandigarh branch of a nationalised bank to overseas branches of two other nationalised banks, including PNB. Ananthasubramanian was the CEO of the PNB at that point in time, said the CBI.
“Ananthasubramanian and her team was in the knowledge of the crime. She along with other bank officials has been named in the chargesheet as they could not give satisfactory replies in regard to the case during questioning by the agency,” the CBI added.