The Mumbai DRT has summoned absconding diamantaire Nirav D. Modi, the public sector Union Bank of India and others at 12 noon on March 12 in a case filed by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) pertaining to the Rs 14,000-crore fraud. The PNB has filed the case before the Mumbai Debt Recovery Tribunal-I to recover Rs 232,15,92,639.06 (@Rs 232 crores).
This is the first time the name of a public sector bank has appeared in direct connection with the PNB scam which was admitted to in February 2018. A questionnaire sent by IANS to UBI seeking details and extent of its exposure in this matter elicited no response on Tuesday.
However, last month, the State Bank of India (SBI) moved to recover outstanding loans of Rs 405 crore from Mehul Choksi, who is among the prime accused in the PNB scam along with his nephew Nirav Modi. (IANS report - Jan 23, 2019). Vide the summons notice issued in prominent Mumbai media on February 5, Modi, UBI and others have been directed to submit written statements in the matter to the PNB and warned that if they fail to respond to the summons, it would result in an ex-parte hearing and decision in the matter.
Interestingly, besides the UBI, the PNB has named one of its own subsidiaries - PNB Investment Services Ltd New Delhi and Mumbai - as parties in the matter. Apart from Modi and UBI, the other parties named in the summons are Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd and its six branches in Mumbai, plus one in Surat, Gujarat.
There are other Modi group companies like Firestar International Ltd at 13 locations, including two in Surat, one in Jaipur (Rajasthan) and nine in Mumbai, and Radashir Jewellery Co Pvt Ltd Mumbai. Through the DRT-I summons, all parties have also been directed to refrain from selling, transferring, leasing or disposing of any secured or other assets in any manner and to disclose particulars of all properties and other assets.
Though Modi's current whereabouts are not clear, the summons has been served at his "known addresses" - at Grosvenor House in south Mumbai and at Al Shera Towers, Behzadi Ferdows in Dubai. Modi, along with his uncle Choksi, their relatives, other company officials and several top PNB serving or retired middle and top-ranking executives have been booked in the massive scam arising out of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking issued by the PNB's Brady House Branch in Mumbai.
According to initial investigations by PNB, its core banking system was bypassed by two staffers who issued LoUs to foreign branches of other banks like UBI, Axis Bank and Allahabad Bank using the SWIFT route, but the extent of their exposure was unclear.
In November 2018, Surat Chief Judicial Magistrate B.H. Kapadia had ordered Modi and the group companies (Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd, Firestar International Ltd and Radashir Jewellery Co Ltd) to appear before him on November 15. He has later declared a "proclaimed offender" in the duty evasion case filed by the Gujarat Customs Department.
(With inputs from agencies.)