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PNB fraud case not out-of-control, says finmin official

Faizan Javed
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Fraud at PNB may cost banking sector much more than Rs 11,400cr

The final bill of the fraud at Punjab National Bank to the Indian banking system could well be in the vicinity of Rs 21,000 crore, if one were to account for the secured loans to the Nirav Modi group and the Gitanjali group of companies.

The finance ministry today sought to allay worries over the Rs 11,300-crore fraud case at Punjab National Bank, saying the case not "out-of-control" and it is taking action in this respect.

"I don't think this is out of control or too big a worry at this point. That is my broad sense," Joint Secretary in Department of Financial Services Lok Rajan said on the sidelines of an event here.

Earlier in the morning Punjab National Bank (PNB) disclosed that it has detected some fraudulent transactions with financial implication of USD 1.171 billion (about Rs 11,334.4 crore) and the matter has been referred to law enforcement agencies for the recovery.

Based on these transactions, other banks appear to have advanced money to these customers abroad, it said. In the bank these transactions are contingent in nature and liability arising out of these on the bank shall be decided based on the law and genuineness of underlying transactions. The quantum of such transactions is USD 1771.69 million (approx), it said.

The matter is already referred to law enforcement agencies to examine and book the culprits as per law of the land. The bank is committed to clean and transparent banking, PNB said.

This is the second incidence in less than 10 days where a bank has been defrauded. On February 5, the CBI booked billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his wife, brother, and a business partner for allegedly cheating Punjab National Bank of over Rs 280.70 crore during 2017.