PNB Fraud Case: ICICI’s Chanda Kochhar & Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma Summoned By SFIO

INDIA’s two high profile bankers Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma heading ICICI and Axis Banks respectively were on Tuesday asked by the Serious Frauds Investigation Office for questioning in connection with the country’s biggest ever bank fraud committed in the state owned Punjab National bank. Diamond merchants Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi accused of defrauding the PNB having high political connections have fled the country. The SFIO under the Ministry for Corporate Affairs which is investigating the 13,000 crore INR fraud had issued the summons seeking clarifications only. 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. Media says 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, media reports.ICICI Bank has said it did not have any exposure to 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. At least 73 companies associated with Choksi have come under the scanner of the CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in the wake of the alleged Rs 12,700 crore fraudulent transactions at Punjab National Bank. The Central Bureau of Investigation has, meanwhile, detained Vipul Chitalia, vice president, banking operations of Gitanjali Group of Companies, at the Mumbai airport for questioning. A preliminary investigation by probe agencies into firms associated with Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi has found that a consortium of 31 banks lent Rs 5,280 crore to his firms between November 2010 and April 2014 against a collateral of only about Rs 100 crore, says TOI.(Pic : Website)

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