Probe into PNB scam starts in full swing; 200 shell firms under scanner

The CBI is examining the balance sheets of 18 India-based subsidiaries of the Gitanjali group of firms, promoted by Mehul Choksi, to get a grip on the trail of funds the group took from banks on the basis of guarantees furnished by Punjab National Bank (PNB). The agency on Sunday evening did searches at the Brady Road branch of PNB in Mumbai, and the operation is likely to continue till morning. CBI officials said the agency was questioning Gokulnath Shetty, a retired PNB official; Manoj Kharat, a serving one; and a signatory of a company run by Nirav Modi, the co-accused, apart from other officials of PNB. They said the agency was analysing the records recovered from a server seized during searches after registering the FIR against Choksi. When asked about a possible quid pro quo involved in the alleged scam perpetrated in collusion with billionaire diamond merchants Choksi and his nephew Modi and Punjab National Bank officials, they said they were looking into it. “The focus is to understand the depth of the scam, the movement of funds and the role of other senior officials,” an official said.200 shell firms under scanner of agencies At least 200 shell firms and “benami” assets have come under the scanner of investigative agencies. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which continued its searches on the premises of Modi and Choksi for the fourth day on Sunday, is moving to attach at least 24 immovable properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED on Sunday raided at least 45 premises, including jewellery showrooms and workshops, in the country. It seized diamond jewellery worth around Rs 10 million from an outlet in Patna. ALSO READ: PNB scam: Odisha to review Gitanjali group’s Rs 6-bn jewellery park project “As many as 29 properties — of Modi, his family members, and companies — that have been provisionally attached by the Income Tax department are being assessed by the ED under the PMLA. A few more assets will be attached soon under the anti-money laundering law,” a senior ED official said. CVC meeting with PNB, FinMin The Central Vigilance Commission will meet the PNB management and finance ministry officials on Monday in connection with the fraud.

While PNB officials are saying the management keeps meeting the CVC regularly, this one is important owing to the fraud.

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