PNB scam: Firestar's Vipul Ambani created disproportionate assets, says CBI

Vipul Ambani’s counsel said his client had no connection with the three Modi firms as alleged by the CBI
Sources in the  Central Bureau of Investigation claimed the agency has strong evidence to make a water-tight case against Vipul Ambani, president–finance, Firestar International, in the Rs 114-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.  

According to the sources, the central agency is in possession of crucial information, which shows that Ambani’s assets are disproportionate to his known source of income.  

According to a senior CBI official, Ambani’s assets are being examined and if the allegations are proved, the assests could be seized by the concerned agency depending on the laws violated by him. 

“Documents revealed that he has created substantial assets in the last three-four years soon after he joined Nirav Modi's group of companies,” he said. Ambani had joined the Modi firm in April 2014.

According to CBI sources, Ambani could be one of the complicit persons in the biggest banking fraud. “He was not only aware of the fraudulent letter of undertakings (LoUs), but evidence showed he was also in connivance with the accused PNB official, especially Gokulnath Shetty (deputy manager at PNB, now retired) and his team,” said a source.

Ambani was arrested by the CBI on Tuesday along with two other executives -- Kavita Mankikar and Arjun Patil -- in connection with the case registered by the agency involving eight fraudulent transactions worth over Rs 2.8 billion. Based on further complaints from the bank, the CBI said the fraud could be as large as Rs 64.9 billion, involving 150 LoUs. 

A special court on Wednesday remanded Ambani and his executives CBI custody till March 5.

The CBI official, however, said that Ambani had not admitted to any of the allegations. The interrogation of all accused is underway.

In the remand copy, which the CBI had produced before the special court, another official said, the probe agency had accused Ambani as CFO and of being aware of the transactions with PNB. The CBI said it found applications of the fraudulent LoUs made to PNB in Firestar’s office.

He said that Ambani failed to give an answer or denial that he was not looking into the affairs of Modi’s firms. The CBI in its remand copy alleged that the LoUs were being prepared on Firestar premises and that not protesting to the issuance of such fraudulent LoUs was a deliberate act of omission by him. “The aforesaid facts prove his part in this conspiracy to cheat PNB,” the remand copy said.

However, Amit Desai, counsel for Ambani, who appeared in the court on Wednesday, refuted the allegations and said his client had no connection with the three Modi firms as alleged by the CBI. He argued that Ambani had been sitting in the CBI office since last Sunday with all information sought.

So far, the CBI has arrested 11 people in the case and searched over dozen premises and residences of Modi and bankers.

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