PNB fraud Bankers Chanda Kochhar, Shikha Sharma summoned in probe

Mumbai: The heads of ICICI and Axis banks, Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma, were summoned for questioning Tuesday in the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi perpetrated Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.
The Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) — the investigating arm of the Corporate Affairs Ministry to probe frauds — summoned the country’s two top bankers as part of its ongoing probe in the nearly Rs 13,000 crore fraud in PNB. The summons were sent to seek clarifications only, sources indicated.
According to reports, the top bankers have been asked to be present in person or send a representative. News agency ANI tweeted photos of Deputy Managing Director Axis Bank V Srinivasan leaving from SFIO office in Mumbai.
It is reported that ICICI Bank led a consortium of 31 banks that lent money to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group. Top officers of all banks will be questioned for clarification.
Sources told news agency ANI that the consortium had given working capital facility to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group. The SFIO had earlier summoned PNB officials and now would question other bank officials too.
Earlier, the SFIO had issued letters to banks asking them explain the working capital facility given to the Gitanjali Group.
ICICI Bank has said it did not have any exposure to diamantaire Nirav Modi but that it had only lent working capital to the group. The CBI also had earlier questioned ICICI Bank Executive Director NS Kanan as part of its probe.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday detained Vipul Chitalia, vice president, banking operations of Gitanjali Group of Companies, at the Mumbai airport for questioning.
Also read: Missed warnings – How watchdogs failed to spot USD 2 billion PNB fraud
A Mumbai special court on Saturday had issued non-bailable warrants against diamond traders Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in connection with the PNB fraud.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has directed Nirav Modi to mandatorily join the investigation from next week after he claimed he could not cooperate as he has business commitments abroad.
The central investigating agency also asked the celebrity diamond merchant to contact the High Commission of the concerned country and said the CBI would arrange for his travel.
Nirav Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the fraud came to light recently following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank. The complaint alleged they cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 12,636 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
Nirav Modi along with his wife Ami, brother Neeshal and Mehul Choksi left India in the first week of January before the Punjab National Bank accused them of committing the fraud. They have not returned to India since then.
Meanwhile, the government has revoked the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Nearly 20 people — several PNB officers, senior employees of the Giranjali group (owned by Mehul Choksi) and an auditor — are already in custody.