Deepali Kalia –
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s supplementary charge sheet against 22 accused in the case, managers of Mehul Choksi, fugitive diamantaire, rented apartments in the names of some employees in Mumbai in order to hide original documents related to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.
Mehul Choksi, 62, has been accused of getting 165 Letters of Undertaking (LOUs) and 58 FLCs (Foreign Letters of Credit) fraudulently issued in 2017 in connivance with officials of the state-run bank.
The fraud had caused a loss of about ₹6,097 crore ($952 million) to the state-run bank, CBI stated.
On 15th June, a special Court taking cognizance of the charge sheet, issued a fresh non-bailable warrant against Choksi. CBI stated in the fresh charge sheet that documents were, on the directions of Vipul Chitalia, the then vice-president of Choksi’s Gitanjali Group, shifted from time to time from the rented apartments.
“Gokulnath Raghu Shetty, Dy. Manager, PNB, had after issuance of above 165 fraudulent LOUs (letters of undertaking issued by Brady House branch of PNB in favour of Gitanjali group companies) in March /April| 2017, and fraudulent amendments made in 58 FLCs (foreign letters of credit) of 2017, returned all the original applications along with other accompanying documents submitted by M/s.Gitanjali Gems Ltd, M/s.Gili india Ltd and M/s. Nakshatra Brands Ltd back to them, which should have been in the custody of the bank,” stated the charge sheet.
The investigation agency added that “With the intention to cause the disappearance of evidence” the documents were again shifted on February 5, 2018 to a shop in Bhimrao Wadi, rented at the instance of Chitalia.
The documents were recovered by the agency during the searches it had conducted while investigating the case.
CBI informed that Chitalia stored records of fraudulent LOUs and FLCs in Google Drive and the drive was recovered when the latter was in the agency’s custody.