PNB Scam Accused Mehul Choksi Cheated Public Sector Punjab And Sind Bank Of Rs 44.1 Crore
PNB Scam Accused Mehul Choksi Cheated Public Sector Punjab And Sind Bank Of Rs 44.1 CroreMehul Choksi. (Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images)

The public sector Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB) has revealed around Rs 44.1 crore loan exposure to the absconding diamantaire Mehul Chinubhai Choksi, on Saturday (12 October).

This is the first time the 111-year-old bank has come clean on the default perpetrated by Choksi, who has now settled as a citizen of Antigua & Barbados, the West Indies.

The New Delhi-based PSB has issued notices proclaiming him as a "willful defaulter" who owes the bank the amount for which it has initiated recovery proceedings against him.

According to PSB, Choksi's company, Gitanjali Gems Ltd., including its merged entity Gitanjali Exports Ltd., had availed the loan from the bank.

Choksi is a director plus a guarantor in the company and legal heir to Guniyal Choksi in the loan account.

However, since they failed to clear the loan amount, the PSB declared it as a 'non-performing asset' on 31 March, 2018, days after it dawned that Choksi and his family had already fled the country in February that year.

The bank has now demanded that Choksi cough out the loan amount plus interest and other costs with effect from 23 October, 2018 onwards.

As he failed to comply, the PSB on 17 September, 2019 declared him as a 'wilful defaulter'.

With this, Choksi joins the bank's band of 27 other defaulters from different fields, based mainly in New Delhi, Punjab and Chandigarh, one in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and two in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, against whom it has filed recovery suits.

The latest development makes PSB the third prominent government-owned bank to reveal its exposure after Oriental Bank of Commerce came clean of loan defaults by Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi totaling to around Rs 289 crore.

The 'mama-bhanja' diamantaire duo shot into limelight in February 2018 after the Punjab National Bank revealed a massive fraud perpetrated by them running into over Rs 13,500 crore, sending shudders in the country's banking industry.

"Besides PSB, which has been a perpetually loss-making entity, several other banks have exposure to Choksi-Modi and their group companies. Why can't all the government banks come clean and jointly take legal action to recover their dues," former and Trade Unions Joint Action Committee (TUJAC), Maharashtra Convenor Vishwas Utagi told IANS.

Utagi said the other bigger questions are: what action has been taken against the departments and officers dealing in foreign exchange in Reserve Bank of India and other affected banks, how much of the outstandings from (Nirav Modi-Choksi and others) accused have been recovered so far and whether the details emerging now are under pressure' before the upcoming merger of banks.

He has demanded a 'forensic audit' into all the accounts in all Indian banks held by the realty, gems & jewellery sectors on priority to reveal the extent of defaults and the collateral damage to society in the public interest.

Earlier this year, the State Bank of India (SBI) had first bared its chest on a Rs 405 crore outstanding loan from Choksi and his family members.

The SBI's disclosure had come barely two days after it became public that Choksi had surrendered his Indian citizenship and taken the nationality of Antigua & Barbados Islands.

In March this year, millions in India were stunned to see a relaxed and well-dressed Nirav Modi sauntering down a street in London, and the subseqeunt furore led to his arrest by the United Kingdom authorities.

Currently, India is making all-out efforts to get the uncle-nephew extradited from Antigua & Barbados, and UK to face the laws here.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber