PM should ‘break silence’ on PNB scam: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday described the PNB scam a “complete failure of regulatory mechanism and fraud detection ability of the banking sector” and demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence on India’s “biggest bank scam”.

“The Congress calls upon the Prime Minister to apprise the nation of complete facts about the biggest bank scam instead of remaining a silent spectator,” the party’s newly formed Steering Committee said in a statement after its first meeting here.

The meeting was chaired by Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Beside him, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram and other senior party leaders were present.

The statement said that “it must be brought out as to how the entire banking system was duped through Letters of Understanding (LoUs) under the watch of the Modi government and why were all authorities, including the Finance Ministry, FIU, SFIO, ED, CBI and others found wanting in preventing loss to public exchequer?”

The opposition party demanded that the Prime Minister also tell the nation as to how did a fraud of this magnitude escape the eyes of all auditors and investigators conducting statutory, internal and concurrent audit and even the RBI’s own audit.

“The Prime Minister must tell the nation the reasons for the failure of the fraud detection ability of the entire banking sector and the Finance Ministry,” it said.

Alleging that the matter was notified to the Prime Minister’s Office in May 2015, the party said: “The Prime Minister must also share with the nation the action taken by the PMO and other government agencies/departments on complaints made about the impending bank scam as early as on May 7, 2015, and on numerous occasions thereafter.”

“The manner in which thousands of crores of public money was looted with impunity and the entire risk management system failed completely tell their own story of giving of favours and grant of protection. The truth is that the bank scam has unveiled the culture of crony capitalism that has thrived and flourished under the watch of Modi government,” the Congress said.

Slamming the government for its alleged failure in bringing back black money stashed abroad, the party said: “Over the last 45 months, the BJP-led government has shown zero action and zero results on bringing back black money stashed abroad, as was promised by the Prime Minister, or taking action against the accused in multiple corruption scams.

“Zero tolerance for corruption has become zero tolerance for accountability on corruption,” it said.

The party said people’s money deposited in government banks had become susceptible to repeated frauds that had occurred under the Modi government’s watch.

“Nearly Rs 6,000-crore Bank of Baroda fraud was a case in point. The tragedy is that swindlers of public funds have left India freely as the BJP-led government and its agencies are acting as silent bystanders,” it said.

“The great escape of Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, and dozens others accused of banking and other frauds is a case in point. Patent and latent complicity at the highest echelons of power is writ large,” the Congress added.