PNB scam: We won't tolerate public money loot, warns PM Modi

PNB scam

The PNB scam the biggest swindling in India’s banking history has been going on smoothly for the last seven years | Salil Bera

Nirav Modi, his uncle and Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by the ED and other probe agencies after it PNB scam came to light.

Intensifying the crackdown on the Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi groups, the ED today said it has frozen their shares, deposits and luxury cars worth over Rs 100 crore in the money laundering probe against them in the Rs 11,400-crore alleged PNB fraud.

In a confidential note sent out in November 2016, the RBI warned of the enormous risk these banks faced because they were not capturing and verifying data from the SWIFT system. It also directed SBI, Axis Bank, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India to reconcile accounts and check for irregularities.

The first source said other checkpoints that banks have been asked to comply with included setting a limit on payment instructions on SWIFT where the beneficiaries were individuals, and putting an additional layer of security on transactions beyond a certain threshold.

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RBI announced the setting up of a panel under the chairmanship of Y.H. Malegam, a former member of its central board of directors, to study rising cases of bank fraud and set out a blueprint to curb them. Sources said the agency is trying to fix responsibility and find out how many more PNB officials or officials of overseas branches of Indian banks could be involved in the scam.

Brussels-based SWIFT has previously said it does not comment on individual customer matters.

Moneycontrol had reported that the PNB fraud has led many banks to review their internal processes and have started centralisingand linking their processes to CBS.

The bank also reaffirmed that it has enough assets to meet any liability.

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"The current episode of financial fraud shows gaps in supervision and monitoring systems at the bank level which have the potential to become disruptive for the industry and the financial sector both".

In a note issued late on Wednesday, Goldman Sachs trimmed its earnings estimates for the top three Indian state-run banks, including PNB, saying recent capital injections announced by the government would dilute earnings.

Some PNB officials allegedly had issued issue fraudulent letters of undertakings (LoUs) to diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his associates for loans from foreign branches of other banks.

Modi and Choksi are accused of cheating Punjab National Bank of Rs 11,380 crore.

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