Congress attacks PM on PNB scam, calls it ‘biggest bank loot’

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday continued its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that the PNB fraud of over Rs 11,000 crore was India’s biggest “bank loot scam” and has got bigger to touch Rs 21,306 crore.

The party also asked why Modi was silent on the issue and how did the agencies permit billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others to leave India.

“Punjab National Bank has already admitted exposure of Rs 11,400 crore in the 293 Letters of Undertaking (LoUs).

“In addition, exposure of 30 banks in loans extended to four companies — Firestar International Private Ltd, Firestar Diamond Fze, Gitanjali Gems Ltd and Gitanjali Exports Corporation — is Rs 9.906 crore,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told media persons.

“Thus, total exposure comes to Rs 21,306 crore.”

“In addition to this, PNB stock has depreciated eroding Rs 7,000 crore in value. Incidentally, the government owns 57 per cent shares in PNB and the remaining is owned by financial institutions/common investors. If you add this, total exposure comes to Rs 28,306 crore.”

He added that the exposure of banks to three more companies — Diamonds RUS, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds — was yet to be disclosed by the banks and the government.

“Experts estimate this exposure to be in the range of Rs 3,000/Rs 5,000 crore. This will further enhance the total figure of the scam.”

Taking a dig at the government’s regional air connectivity scheme, he said: “No wonder, ‘UDAAN’ is the buzzword of Modi government, wherein every scamster can fleece and fly – unchecked and undetected.”

The party also alleged that Prime Minister’s Office, Enforcement Directorate, Corporate Affairs Ministry, Serious Fraud Investigation Office, SEBI, and the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments were aware of the scam “as early as on May 7, 2015”.

“Why did they not take action?

“Does Modi know accused Mehul Choksi? If yes, why is the government denying it? How did the entire fraud escape the four stage audit system of banks? Why did the banks not get alerted despite the withdrawal of ratings by rating agency CARE?” he asked.