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Punjab National Bank MD and CEO Sunil Mehta.
Punjab National Bank MD and CEO Sunil Mehta.

PNB fraud: CEO Sunil Mehta likely to appear before SFIO tomorrow

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office has summoned PNB MD and CEO Sunil Mehta for recording of his statement in connection with the Rs12,700-crore fraud at the bank

Mumbai: The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has summoned Punjab National Bank (PNB) managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) Sunil Mehta for recording of his statement in connection with the Rs12,700-crore fraud at the bank, and he is expected to appear on Wednesday, officials said on Tuesday.

The SFIO, which is the investigating arm of the ministry of corporate affairs, earlier on Tuesday recorded statements of senior officials of private sector lenders Axis Bank Ltd and ICICI Bank Ltd in connection with its probe into the alleged scam at the Punjab National Bank. As part of the investigation, the SFIO has issued summons to heads of over 30 banks that have exposure to companies of diamond traders Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

With Axis Bank and ICICI Bank complying with the SFIO summons, other lenders are likely to follow the suit. “We have summoned Mehta (the head of the beleaguered bank) and he is expected to appear before us tomorrow," said an SFIO official. A team from Axis Bank, led by deputy managing director V. Srinivasan and executives from the trade and transactions department, on Tuesday went to the SFIO’s office.

On 14 February, PNB had said it detected fraudulent transactions worth $1.77 billion (Rs11,400 crore) at one of its branches in Mumbai. The lender on 27 February, however, said the amount of fraudulent transactions could be Rs1,300 crore more.

The transactions were carried by diamond jeweller Nirav Modi by acquiring fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoU) from the lender’s Brady House branch in Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other Indian lenders. The central bureau of investigation has so far arrested over a dozen of persons, including former and current officials of PNB and companies related to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

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