Real culprits in Punjab National Bank fraud are being protected: Mehul Choksi
Diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who is being investigated in connection with the Rs 13,600 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, alleged that the real culprits behind the bank fraud are being shielded.
In a statement, Choksi said, "Debajyoti Dutta of Rishika Financials, who was in the business of discount financing Letters of Undertakings (LoU), paid more than a crore in bribes to Gokulnath Shetty, deputy manager of the Brady Branch of Punjab National Bank. Dutta has been conveniently and mysteriously made a witness in the case on behalf of PNB, rather than an accused."
Choksi's statement comes at a time when Indian agencies have turned the heat on Nirav Modi -- the key accused in the PNB scam -- and trying hard to extradite him.
Nirav Modi, who is currently lodged in a UK prison, will appear for another hearing before the Westminster Magistrates Court via video conference on April 26.
Meanwhile, Indian investigative agencies -- Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) -- are pushing hard for Choksi's extradition from Antigua as well.
Nirav Modí's uncle and business partner Choksi even alleged that the arrangement between Debajyoti Dutta and Gokulnath Shetty dates back to 2010, way before he began dealing with PNB.
"Dutta would get PNB Letters of Undertaking (LoU) financed by foreign banks on behalf of Shetty. Dutta charged an arranger fee for this service -- a fact which was known to and approved by senior officials of the PNB. The kickback that Gokulnath Shetty would get from Debajyoti Dutta was constant, illicit," said Choksi.
Mehul Choksi went on to claim that the probe agencies failed to identify Dutta's clever arrangement, details of which are outlined in his 20-page statement. He also said that not once in his statement has Dutta linked his actions to Choksi or any of his firms.
"This cosy relationship between Debajyoti Dutta and Gokulnath Shetty would have ended with Shetty's transfer from the Brady branch, in 2013. Internal transfers are routine matters, to rotate officers and to arrest the development of precisely such vested interests," alleges Mehul Choksi.
Gokulnath Shetty was the first person to be arrested by CBI after an FIR was lodged against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
"I have borne the brunt of this investigation and paid the price with the loss of my business, built over three decades, despite the fact that not a single shred of evidence has been produced against me," said Mehul Choksi.
"In such a set of circumstances, riddled with allegations, innuendoes, and half-truths, the most obvious course of action is a deep and thorough investigation into Dutta to lay bare the facts. While some PNB officials have come under investigative scrutiny, the larger role of the Punjab National Bank and its failure to exert oversight has been missed," he added.