By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) The CBI is probing another loan of Rs 5,280 crore taken by diamond trader Mehul Choksi and his companies from a consortium of 31 banks led by ICICI Bank, informed sources said.
The probe is part of the existing FIR filed against Choksi and his Gitanjali Group of companies, said the sources.
They said the Rs 5,280 crore loan amount was separate from the Rs 13,600 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud already being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
"The investigation is under the purview of working capital loan and it may become the part of the existing PNB fraud cases. If this proves to be a fraud too, the whole fraud amount may officially touch Rs 19,000 crore."
As per the complaints of PNB, the country's second-biggest state-run lender, the CBI is currently probing about Rs 7,080 crore fraud during 2013-17 against Gitanjali Gems Ltd, Gill India Ltd, Nakshatra Brand Ltd and Asmi Jewellery India Ltd.
The CBI on February 15 filed a case against Gitanjali group of companies controlled by Choksi for allegedly defrauding the bank of Rs 4,8886.72 crore. Later the agency got another PNB complaint on February 22 wherein the fraud in respect of Foreign Letter of Credits increased by another Rs 1,251.56 crore.
The agency on March 4 received another complaint from PNB against Gitanjali Group regarding additional exposure of about Rs 942.18 crore.
Choksi, the chairman of the Gitanjali Group, was so far accused along with his nephew Nirav Modi in the Rs 13,600 crore PNB bank fraud. The CBI has registered separate FIRs in connection with the case.
Billionaire diamantaire Modi, a regular on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, his group companies -- Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports-- his wife Ami and brother Nishal Modi are also named in along with others in the fraud, admitted by the PNB in February and leading to a massive upheaval in the country's banking system.
Choksi, Modi and his family are still at large as they fled abroad in first week of January - around a month before the PNB filed first complaint against them about the fraud.
The PNB has claimed in different complaints to the CBI that several LoUs -- issued by one bank to other banks, based on which foreign branches offer credit to buyers -- were fraudulently issued by its officials in connivance with Modi and the other accused in the case causing huge losses to the bank.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)