New Delhi: Close on the heels of a massive Rs 11,300 crore PNB scam, three fresh financial frauds have come to light including the alleged involvement of a Delhi-based jeweller, who has been accused of defrauding the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) to the tune of about Rs 390 crore through Letters of Credit.
The fresh exposure provided Congress President Rahul Gandhi an opportunity to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, these promoters have also disappeared while the government looked the other way.
On Thursday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against Delhi’s Karol Bagh-based diamond jewellery exporting firm Dwarka Das Seth International for an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 389.85 crore involving the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC).
The agency on Wednesday filed a case against businessman Amit Singla and others on a complaint of the Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) of criminal misappropriation of a loan he had taken through forged documents.
The same day, the agency also filed a case against Inder Chand Chundawat, the then Senior Branch Manager in the Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) Barmer office in Rajasthan, for alleged abuse of his official position by depositing various government subsidies to the tune of Rs 1.57 crore in a fictitious account. The official was suspended following an internal inquiry.
Last week, the banking sector was rocked by major financial frauds — involving Rs 11,300 crore by diamantaire Nirav Modi and Rs 3,695 crore by Rotomac owner Vikram Kothari — surfaced in which the CBI has filed cases and made several arrests.
After the PNB and the Bank of Baroda, the OBC, BoM and Barmer office of the PNB rushed to the CBI with their complaints of fraud, leading to the agency filing three separate cases.
The OBC has alleged that it was defrauded by Dwarka Das Seth International and its owner Sabhya Seth. The loans turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) way back in 2014, but the bank approached the agency on August 16 last year, after the company had folded up and Seth fled the country.
The CBI has started tracing India-based directors and partners of the company.
The OBC complaint has alleged that Dwarka Das Seth International took loans by way of letters of credit and other such credit facilities for gold jewellery export/import between 2007 and 2012 but failed to pay back.
A probe by the bank found that the company had indulged in round-tripping of funds through fictitious companies abroad and had utilised funds by discounting bills based on the letters of credit of foreign banks, which were either non-existent or had negative ratings.
Similarly, BoM has approached the CBI to lodge a loan default complaint against a Delhi businessman Amit Singla. The loan had turned into an NPA in 2013 and the bank has even sold a property kept as collateral to recover its dues, sources said.
The BoM’s FIR names Singla, the proprietor of Delhi-based Ashirwad Chain Co, loan guarantor Roshan Lal Bhalotia, property valuation firm Tech Mach International and unknown officials of the bank.
It is alleged that Singla and his company took loans of Rs 9.5 crore through cash credit facility from the bank between 2010 and 2012. The accused allegedly submitted three properties in Delhi and Haryana as collaterals. The properties, at the time of taking the loan, were valued at over Rs 18 crore by Tech Mach International.
But, after the loans turned into NPAs, the actual market value of the properties were found to be only Rs 2.5 crore. One of the properties, a double-storied house owned by Roshan Lal in Rohtak, Haryana, was valued at Rs 4.85 crore while sanctioning the loan. When the bank sold it off to recover its dues, it fetched only Rs 73 lakh.
Similarly, a commercial property owned by the accused at Chandni Chowk in Delhi was valued by Tech Mach at the time of disbursal of the loans at Rs 4.95 crore, but it was actually worth Rs 31 lakh only. Tech Mach was later removed from the panel of valuers by the bank.
In the complaint, the BoM said: “The overvalued valuations were deliberately given in connivance with the borrowers and the guarantors … to fraudulently induce the bank to finance the borrower.”
The FIR also alleged that Singla had submitted inflated stock audit reports and balance sheets, apart from diverting the loans to sister concerns.
In the light of the emergence of three fresh cases of fraud, Rahul Gandhi attacked the Prime Minister.
“Under Modiji‘s ‘Jan-Dhan Loot Yojana‘, another scam! 390 crore, involving a Delhi-based jeweller. Same Modus operandi as Nirav Modi. Fake LOUs,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
“Predictably, like Mallya and Nirav, this promoter too has disappeared while the Govt looked the other way,” he added with hashtag #ModiRobsIndia.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday the discourse needed to move on from ease of doing business to that of Indian industry’s responsibility to become ethical in the way it does business.
He said political corruption at the Centre had “reduced significantly” after the ruling NDA government ended the administration’s discretionary powers in awarding contracts and allocation of resources.
The sale of electoral bonds from next week, he added, would be a decisive step in cleaning up the system of political funding in the country.
On Friday, PM Modi spoke about the bank fraud for the first time at the ET Global Business Summit saying government would take “stern action” against irregularities.