National

PNB Scam: Central Vigilance Commissioner to Meet Bank CEO

New Delhi: Central Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdhary will meet scam-hit Punjab National Bank's (PNB) Chief Executive Officer Sunil Mehta and the Chief Vigilance Officer on Monday to seek an explanation on the 11,360 crore fraud involving jewellery designer Nirav Modi, his relative and business partner Mehul Choksi and others.

The meeting in Delhi will also be attended by senior Finance Ministry officials and representatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), sources said.

At least 200 shell firms and "benami" assets have come under the scanner of the investigative agencies that are probing the fraud.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which continued its searches against Modi, Choksi and their companies for the fourth day on Sunday, is also moving to attach at least two dozen immovable properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED on Sunday raided at least 45 premises, including jewellery showrooms and workshops, across the country.

"As many as 29 properties - of Modi, his family members and companies - that have been provisionally attached by the Income Tax department, are being assessed by the ED under the PMLA. A few more assets will be attached soon under the anti-money laundering law," a senior ED official said.

He added that the ED and the I-T department had zeroed in on about 200 dummy or shell companies in the country and abroad that were being used to route or receive funds as part of the alleged fraud.

It is suspected that the shell firms were being used by the accused to launder money and create "benami" assets in the form of land, gold and precious stones, which is now being probed by the tax department.

Both the ED and the IT department had formed special teams to investigate the case, sources said.

The ED has seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones worth Rs 5,674 crore till now in the case.

The I-T department on Saturday attached nine bank accounts of Gitanjali Gems, its promoter Mehul Choksi and others in connection with a tax evasion probe against them.

It had also attached 29 properties and 105 bank accounts of Modi, his family members and firms owned by them.

Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after it recently came to light, following a complaint by the PNB, that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

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