The CBI has filed a charge sheet against the former international head of the Gitanjali Group of Companies, Sunil Verma, and others in connection with an alleged fraud with the National Bank of Punjab, involving an amount of more than 7,080 crore, in which the group’s promoter, Mehul Choksi, is wanted by the agency, officials said Wednesday.
Two officials of the National Bank of Punjab (PNB), Sagar Sawant and Sanjay Prasad, and a director of the group’s Gili and Nakshtra brands, Dhanesh Seth, have also been named as defendants in the supplementary charge sheet presented by the Central. . Bureau of Investigation (CBI), they said.
The supplemental charge sheet, filed more than three years after the first charge sheet in the case against Choksi and his companies, coincides with the prosecution against the fugitive diamantaire in a court in Dominica, where he was arrested for “trespassing.” on May 24 after his mysterious disappearance from neighboring Antigua and Barbuda.
“This supplemental charge sheet after three years shows that it is only an attempt to cover up anomalies that the defense had pointed out on the first charge sheet. Also, the addition of section 201 of the IPC for destruction of evidence is not legally defensible as a document becomes evidence only after it is presented in court and the allegations are from a period long before the FIR, “said Choksi’s attorney, Vijay Aggarwal.
Choksi had lived in Antigua and Barbuda since 2018, after he fled India in the first week of January of that year, weeks before the scam was reported.
The diamantaire and his nephew, Nirav Modi, allegedly diverted more than 13 billion rupees of public money from GNP, using letters of commitment (LoU) and foreign letters of credit (FLC) by bribing officials at the Brady House branch of the bank in Mumbai.
Of the total amount of the scam, Choksi’s companies are accused of diverting 7,080 million rupees through LoU and FLC, while Modi and his companies have allegedly cheated in the amount of more than 6,498 million rupees, according to the CBI. .
The agency’s investigation has so far found that 165 LoUs and 58 FLCs were issued to Choksi’s companies.
The CBI has stated that its investigation is continuing into the matter and the final amount diverted by the defendants is still under investigation.
The agency has included the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, breach of trust, missing evidence, falsification of accounts, bribery and criminal misconduct by a public servant on its supplemental charge sheet filed with a special court in Mumbai.
The CBI investigation has revealed that from 2011 to 2017, the accused PNB officials, in a conspiracy with Choksi and his company executives, fraudulently issued a large number of LoUs to foreign banks in order to obtain buyer credit. in favor of their signatures.
These LoUs and FLCs were allegedly issued to Choksi’s companies without any authorized limit or cash margin and without making entries into the bank’s central banking system to evade any scrutiny in case of default.
LoUs are a guarantee given by a bank on behalf of its client to a foreign bank. In the event that the client does not reimburse the foreign bank, the responsibility lies with the guarantor bank.
It is alleged that Choksi and Modi used the mechanism to obtain credit from foreign banks, which was not repaid, bringing the liability of more than 13 billion rupees to GNP.
The investigation has further revealed that the fraud was allegedly perpetrated despite circulars issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which were known to senior PNB officials, the CBI alleged.
In addition, PNB officials failed to implement the RBI issued warning notices and circulars regarding the protection of SWIFT (international banking messaging system) operations and instead misrepresented the factual situation before the RBI, the agency alleged.