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ICICI’s Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma summoned in PNB scam: Reports

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office on Tuesday summoned ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma in connection with its inquiry into the Rs 12,703-crore fraud involving the Punjab National Bank and businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

Kochhar and Sharma were summoned to the SFIO’s office in Mumbai over the Rs 3,280-crore working capital loan to Choksi’s Gitanjali group, ICICI and Axis Bank was among 31 banks that had lent money to Choksi. The Central Bureau of Investigation had also questioned ICICI’s Executive Director NS Kanan.

Citing sources, reported that the two top bankers were only being questioned for clarifications and were not accused in the case.

Earlier in the day, the Central Bureau of Investigation detained the vice president of banking operations of Gitanjali Group, Vipul Chitalia, at the Mumbai airport for questioning.

The National Company Law Tribunal on Monday restrained Modi and Choksi from selling their assets. Besides Modi and Choksi, the NCLT restrained a few individuals related to the Punjab National Bank, various companies and limited liability partnerships. Gitanjali Gems, Gilli India, Nakshatra Brands and Firestar Diamond are among the 64 entities that have been barred.

The case
The Punjab National Bank had initially said the amount was around Rs 11,380, but it revealed additional fraud of Rs 1,323 crore in a stock exchange filing later. A few officials at the public sector bank had reportedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking – essentially letters of credit telling others banks that it would meet a customer’s liabilities – to Nirav Modi’s companies. Some bank officials have been arrested and are being investigated.

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