Both the Congress and the ruling BJP are busy blaming each other for the country’s biggest banking scam worth over Rs 11,000 crore, while the key accused are still on the run and the government has no clue about their whereabouts. Diamond czar Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi, who, the Congress claims were close to Prime Minister Marendra Modi, allegedly defrauded the Punjab National Bank by making fraudulent transactions of over Rs 11,300 crore through 151 letters of understanding.
The BJP says the PNB bank fraud happened during UPA’s tenure and the party was trying to clean Congress’s mess. The Congress, however, says it all happened right under the nose of India’s “Chaukidar” - PM Modi.
Punjab National Bank MD Sunil Mehta said the “cancer” started in 2011 and came to his notice in the third week of January this year. However, the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) shows 148 of the total 151 Letters of Understanding (LoUs) were issued under the Modi government in 2017.
Congress has trained all its guns on Prime Minister Modi and accused him of hosting Mehul Choksi, Managing Director of Gitanjali Gems' and one of the prime accused of the scam, at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence in 2015. Congress has also shared a video that purportedly shows PM Modi addressing Mehul Choksi as “Mehul Bhai”.
Apart from Mehul Choksi, the party said, Nirav Modi also accompanied Prime Minister Modi during his Davos visit to attend the World Economic Forum last month. The Congress has also shared a picture of Prime Minister Modi with Nirav Modi which is said to be clicked a day before the CBI registered its FIR.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal alleged that the market capitalisation of listed companies in the gems and jewelry business is pegged at Rs 41.66 billion, while its gross current debt stands at Rs 94 billion. This shows that the banks gave him loans more than the overall value of his businesses.
Sibal said Nirav Modi has bought fewer assets and took more loans since PM Modi took came to power in 2014. "They were aware of all this. But they turned a blind eye. They were aware that the country was being looted," Congress said.
After Congress’s allegations, the ruling party quickly came in the damage control mode and tried to pin the blame on Manmohan Singh-led UPA government for the multi-crore PNB scam. The party fielded none other than but Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to counter Congress’s charges.
Sitharaman said the country's biggest banking scam happened during UPA's rule and Modi government was cleaning the mess spread by Congress. She said the key accused Nirav Modi and his family may have been able to escape but the government is taking action against him.
The Defence Minister cited ex-Allahabad Bank director Dinesh Dubey and said he had warned the UPA government against giving loans to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems but he was removed from his post.
What ex-Allahabad Bank director Dinesh Dubey claims
Dinesh Dubey was the director of Allahabad Bank Director in 2013 and allegedly asked to step down after he raised the objections to the financial restructuring of Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems.
Dinesh told a private news channel that had the UPA government listened to him, the scam could have been stopped. The UPA government allowed the scam but NDA let it flourish 10 times and let the accused flee, he told ABP News.
Bengaluru businessman alerted PMO in 2016
A Bengaluru based businessman named Hari Prasad claimed he alerted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) about the fraudulent intentions of Mehul Choksi but PMO didn't act against him.
His letter to the PMO clearly stated the fact that Mehul Choksi had taken massive bank loans worth almost Rs 9872 crore but his assets are way below than the amount. He had warned that the loans given to him will soon become NPAs.