Top bank officials likely to face charges in PNB scam case

Tuesday, 15 May, 2018

The agency has also named PNB executive directors K.V. Brahmaji Rao and Sanjiv Sharan and general manager (international operations) Nehal Ahad in the chargesheet.

Banking secretary Rajiv Kumar told media that a government nominee on the board of state-run Allahabad Bank would call a meeting to seek the removal of the lender's chief executive Usha Ananthasubramanian, who previously headed fraud-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB). "Usha Ananthasubramanian, who was the managing director of PNB from 2015 to 2017, has been named because she and some other senior officials did not implement the RBI's circular and a caution notice regarding measures to safeguard transactions".

Ananthasubramanian, who is now the MD and CEO of Allahabad Bank, Executive Directors of Punjab National Bank K V Brahmaji Rao and Sanjiv Sharan, and General Manager (International Banking) Nehal Ahad are four senior bank executives who have been charge-sheeted by the agency.

Aniyath Shiv Raman Nair and Vipul Chitalia have also been arrested from the Gitanjali Group, associated with Mehul Choksi.

The charge sheet will "likely" name senior Indian bank officials, the source said, without sharing further details.

Rs 7579 crore in gross NPA addition was due to the Nirav Modi fraud; Rs 10,237 crore was due to RBI's new stressed asset circular.

At the heart of the PNB fraud was the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) messaging system, which is used by banks worldwide to enable cross-border transactions. The scam pertains to the alleged issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertakings of more than Dollars 2 billion to companies of Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi by the Punjab National Bank's Brady House branch in Mumbai during 2011-17, officials said.

For the unversed, the PNB in February detected the multi-crore scam, wherein Diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle cum business partner Mehul Choksi had allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of Rs. 114 billion, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank. This is the first charge sheet that has been filed against the absconding jeweller since the CBI and ED registered cases against him.

The bank said that provisions worth Rs 3,120 crore have been made against accounts where stressed asset schemes were under implementation. Before PNB filed the complaint with the CBI, both Modi and Choksi had left the country. "Three companies and 22 people have been listed as accused and around 12 of them are related to PNB".

This was a clear "misrepresentation" of facts to the RBI by top officials of PNB, they said. She was executive director at PNB from July 2011 to November 2013.