PNB fraud: UCO Bank admits to having Rs 26.36-bn outstanding exposure

At the end of December quarter, Kolkata-based UCO Bank's NPLs were 17.18 per cent of the total loans made
State-owned UCO Bank on Saturday said it has exposure of $411.82 million (about Rs 26.36 billion) in the Rs Rs 114-billion PNB fraud committed by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his associates.

In normal course of business, the Hong Kong branch has been negotiating export documents against Letter of Credit issued through authenticated SWIFT message by Punjab National Bank (PNB) after receiving acceptance through authenticated SWIFT message, UCO Bank said in a regulatory filing to stock exchanges.

The applicants for these Letters of Credit includes few of the corporate clients associated with the incident of recent fraud at PNB, it said.

"The outstanding exposure involved in the transactions is approximately $411.82 million and the bank is fully confident to receive the payment from the PNB," it said.

Earlier this week, fraud-hit PNB said it will honour its bonafide commitments and entire liability will be known after the investigation.

The PNB fraud pertains to issuance of fake Letters of Understanding (LoUs) to companies associated with billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi by errant PNB employees, which enabled these companies to raise buyers credit from international branches of other Indian lenders.

Last week, PNB had lodged an FIR with CBI stating that fraudulent LoUs worth Rs 2.807 billion (Rs 280.7 crore) were first issued on January 16. At the time, PNB had said it was digging into records to examine the magnitude of the fraud.

In the complaint, PNB had named three diamond firms -- Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds  saying they had —pproached it on January 16 with a request for buyers credit for making payment to overseas suppliers.

The bank sought 100 per cent cash margins for issuing LoUs for raising buyers credit, which was contested by the firms saying they had availed of the facility from as early as 2010.

Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and uncle Mehul Choksi are partners in Diamonds R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds, which has shops in foreign locations such as Hong Kong, Dubai, and New York.

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