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'If you had information why didn't you act' Cong asks NaMo a day after Nirav expose

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 15 February 2018, 19:28 IST

A day after state-owned Punjab National Bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange of detecting fraudulent transactions worth over Rs 11,000 crore in its Mumbai branch related to businessman Nirav Modi, the Congress hit out at the Narendra Modi government.
The Grand Old Party claimed that the matter was brought to the notice of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on July 2016 and yet the Prime Minister and Finance Minister took no action.
“A complaint was filed to the PMO about the entire fraud being perpetuated as early as on 26 July, 2016. Yet, no action was taken either by the PMO or any other authority. Bank lost the money and the accused escaped,” said Congress' chief spokesperson RS Surjewala.
On 26 July, one Hari Prasad from Bengaluru wrote to the PMO accusing Mehul C Choksi-promoted Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra of indulging in a scam and fraud in Mumbai, wherein thousands of crores of public money is being siphoned off systematically. Choksi also happens to be Nirav Modi's maternal uncle and business partner. According to reports, both Choksi and Nirav Modi have left India.
Reacting to reports of Nirav Modi leaving India, Congress said that “loot and escape” have become the hallmark of the Modi government. Addressing Nirav Modi as 'Chhota (Small) Modi', Surjewala raised suspicion over whether the jeweller-businessman was tipped off by someone within the government just like Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya.
Meanwhile, Prasad in his letter to the PMO also mentioned how despite complaints by various franchisee victims no action was taken against the the company by investigating agencies. “Having failed to get the attention of any serious investigating authority, we have finally come to your door for justice,” read the letter.
Further in his letter, he wrote how Choksi has siphoned off thousands of crores outside of India and furnished evidence of his claims. He went on to write how there are lots of deficiencies in the balance sheets and furnished a list of 31 banks extending loans to Choksi's group.
“This company has taken huge loans to the tune of “almost Rs 9,872 crore with meager assets of just Rs 25-30 crore”. He warned that these loans can soon become NPA and “someone needs to investigate the credit report of this group with these banks”.
He also warned that the chances of Choksi defaulting on payments are high considering his company has not been paying income-tax running into thousands of crores since 2006. “I hope you will take due note of the above and do your bit to save the country from another Subroto Roy (Sahara Group) and Vijay Mallya (King Fisher group) and many such kind of white collar THUGS from looting public money and stashing it out of India,” read the letter.
On 29 July, 2016, Prasad wrote to Mumbai's Registrar of Companies wherein he forwarded the same letter and yet no action was taken. Reacting to this, Surjewala said, “Why did Prime Minister not take any action to protect the interests of the banking sector despite a written complaint having been received and acknowledged on 26 July, 2016? Why were all the authorities, including Finance Ministry, its financial intelligence units and all other authorities sleeping on their job?”
Surjewala further stated how the complaint by PNB to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) dated 29 January, 2018 reflects as to how from 9 January to 14 February 2017, eight Letters of Understandings worth crores of rupees were issued.
Surjewala said, “What the Modi government has not told us is that there is also an exposure of Rs 9,872 crore of various banks with Gitanjali Gems Ltd, a company promoted by Shri Mehul Choksi. The entire system was bypassed.
“All regulatory mechanisms broke down. Everything escaped the eyes of auditors and investigators. Risk Management and Fraud Detection ability came to a naught. Yet, the Modi government would have believe us that this entire fraud was being perpetrated by two employees.”
The Congress also raised questions over what “chota Modi (Nirav Modi)" was doing with the PM at Davos earlier this year. Surjewala claimed that despite being made aware of such a fraud, Nirav Modi was part of a delegation of Indian businessmen at Davos. In one such photograph, which has gone viral, Nirav Modi can be seen in a group photograph along with bureaucrats and CEOs posing with the Prime Minister on 23 January in Davos.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi too did not leave the opportunity to corner the PM over Nirav Modi and tweeted, “Guide to looting India by Nirav Modi – 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS. Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000 crore B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the government looks the other way.”

First published: 15 February 2018, 19:28 IST