Gitanjali Group cheated PNB of Rs 48.86 bn, says CBI after filing fresh FIR

File photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
A day after Enforcement directorate (ED)'s multiple-city search operation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a second first information report (FIR) against Gitanjali group of companies in the Punjab National bank (PNB) fraud case. 

According to the CBI officials, the fresh FIR was based on a complaint filed by the bank on February 13, claiming fraud of Rs 114-billion. CBI said that the alleged loss to PNB was over Rs 48 billion (Rs 4,886 crore). The FIR named three companies—Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand. 

Meanwhile, the central agency is conducting searches in 20 properties in six-cities linked to Mehul Choksi and its group companies. These include Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), Gujarat (Surat), Jaipur, Hyderabad, and Coimbatore. 

“Searches are at locations belonging to Gitanjali group, other directors of the accused companies and other group factories and plants including offices, factories and residences,” said a CBI official. 

According to the officials, the accused PNB official seems to have conspired with outsiders and sent unauthorised letters of undertakings (LoU) and foreign letters of credit to overseas branches of Indian banks to release funds to the company’s supplier. 

Further, the CBI also approached Interpol with a request for issuing diffusion notice, which was aimed at locating an individual. Both CBI and ED also sent a request to the government seeking to revoke passports of Modi and Choksi.

On Thursday, ED had conducted searches in several properties linked to billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi in Mumbai, Delhi, and Gujarat on Thursday, and seized diamond, jewellery and gold worth Rs 51 billion, officials said. Meanwhile, the enforcement agency summoned Modi, Choksi and two other relatives named in the CBI’s FIR.

ED sources said that they were given a week’s time to present before the agency for questioning under Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA). Meanwhile, the enforcement directorate and I-T department heads met late in the evening on Thursday and laid out the action plan against all the parties involved in the matter.

During the search operation, ED found that the bank money was withdrawn from Hong Kong. The probe agency to soon approach overseas authority over the money trail, said an ED source. 

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