PNB fraud: CBI arrests four more, including a Malayalee

"And when the liberty of a female is not been priced (sic) by the investigating agencies, my concern for my safety and for the unfairness in the process is not in any manner misplaced", Nirav Modi wrote to Archana Salaye, Assistant Director of ED, on February 26.

Though Modi has not been formally charged for the crime, India's External Affairs Ministry has revoked the passports of the disgraced jeweller and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi, and launched a massive crackdown on companies linked to the duo. Accordingly, the special court issued a NBW against Modi.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has arrested 14 people in the case, on Saturday for the first time said bribes were paid to at least one Punjab National Bank (PNB) official by Modi. "He neither responded to those summonses nor appeared before the agency". The ED had issued summonses to him on February 15, February 17 and February 22, asking him to appear before the agency. In response to the second summons, Nirav Modi said he can not appear before the agency owing to his business commitments.

Even as multiple agencies are probing the Rs 12,700 crore Punjab National Bank scam, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has barred more than 60 entities, including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, various individuals, companies and limited liability partnership firms, from selling their assets. The Income Tax Department has already filed a charge sheet under sections 276 C (1) [wilful attempt to evade tax], 277 A [false statement in verification], 278 B [offences by companies] and 278 E [presumption as to culpable mental state] of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

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The estimated Rs 12,700 crore fraud was perpetrated by way of fraudulent Letter of Undertakings (LoUs) in connivance with some bank employees.

The LoU is a guarantee which is given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches overseas to grant a short-term credit to the applicant. On Thursday, the CBI arrested another former bank official, Bishnubrata Mishra, who was the internal chief auditor between 2011 and 2015 at the Brady House branch, ANI reported.

Amid a growing clamor for privatizing state-owned banks in the wake of the country's biggest-ever bank fraud of 1.8 billion USA dollars, bank employees have written to the Indian government slamming such a "counterproductive" move.

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