Agencies, New Delhi
ICICI bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma were summoned by the SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) on Tuesday in the Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam case. Kochhar and Sharma have been asked to appear at the SFIO’s Mumbai office.
The top bankers were issued summons over the Rs 3,280 crore working capital loan to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali group. Thirty-one banks had given loan to Choksi, ICICI had sanctioned a loan of Rs 405 crore.
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office summoned ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma for interrogation in connection with the big bank scam.
Earlier in the day, the CBI detained Vipul Chitalia, the vice president of Gitanjali Group of Companies, as a part of its probe into the PNB fraud.
Chitalia was apprehended at Mumbai airport and brought to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office at the Bandra-Kurla Complex here for questioning, he said, but did not divulge any other details about Chitalia’s alleged role in the PNB fraud.
The Rs 12,636-crore fraud was allegedly perpetrated by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.It is alleged that Choksi and Modi got Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) of Rs 12,636 crore issued in favour of foreign branches of Indian banks based on fraudulent claims.
The accused officials of PNB did not enter the instructions for these LoUs and in their internal software to avoid scrutiny.They were sent through an international messaging system for banking called SWIFT, which is used to pass instructions among banks globally to transfer funds.
An LoU is a guarantee which is given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant. In case of default, the bank issuing the LoU has to pay the liability to the credit giving bank along with accruing interest.