Security & Fraud

More Arrests In Punjab National Bank Diamond Fraud Case

India’s police took more action in their investigation of the loan scam at Punjab National Bank (PNB), arresting three more employees of the bank.

According to a report in Reuters citing police and local media reports, two of those arrested in the latest move in the investigation were officers in charge of the foreign exchange department at the state-run bank. The third arrested officer was in charge of checking the SWIFT communications.

Two other employees arrested last week were accused of helping provide fake loans to businesses tied to Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweler, and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who heads jewelry retailer Gitanjali Gems. Those two initially detained employees were Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat.

The three arrested on Monday (Feb. 19) held positions that are higher than the two previous arrested, and were accused of supervisory lapses. The three newly detained employees are Bechhu Tiwari, a chief manager in charge of the foreign exchange department; Yashwant Joshi, a manager in the same department; and bank officer Praful Sawant, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

As the more than billion-dollar scam plays out in India, accusations are flying about who is to blame and who dropped the ball. On Monday (Feb. 19), the country’s finance ministry blamed the Reserve Bank of India for failing to find the fraud, which took place in a branch of PNB in Mumbai, reported Reuters.

In a letter to the Reserve Bank of India, the government said the failure raises questions about the “efficacy of supervision to detect and check systemic failure. Either the framework designed by RBI to prevent and detect such frauds is inadequate or RBI is unable to ensure its effective implementation.” Rajeev Kumar, the top government official overseeing bank activities in India, said in an interview with Reuters that the finance ministry had communicated to the country’s banks to prevent a repeat of the fraud at PNB.



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