PNB scam: 3 bank officers sent to police custody

New Delhi: Mumbai’s Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday sent Bechu Tiwari, Yashwant Joshi, and Praful Sawant to police custody till March 3 in connection with the Nirav Modi fraud case.

Bechhu Tiwari, the then chief manager in the Forex department; Yashwant Joshi, Scale-II Manager in the Forex department; and Praful Sawant, Scale-I officer handling the exports section, were arrested on Monday.

The CBI insisted that the present accused were not cooperating in the investigation and were shifting all the blame on Gokulnath Shetty, the retired deputy manager of Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) foreign exchange department at the Brady House in Fort in Mumbai, and others in this case.

Tiwari was responsible for supervising the work of Gokulnath Shetty and his manager to ensure entry of authorised swift messages only from the system. He had full knowledge of the activities of Gokulnath Shetty, a retired deputy manager of PNB’s foreign exchange department.

Meanwhile, Joshi was responsible for supervising Shetty; ensuring daily reports of swift and Core Banking Solutions (CBS) entries. He had full knowledge of the activities of Shetty but took no action.

Sawant was responsible for checking the SWIFT messages daily and report.

Their lawyer too blamed Gokulnath Shetty and said that he was the perpetrator of this scam.

“Co-accused Gokulnath Shetty is the perpetrator of this scam, who had issued the Letter of Undertaking (LOU). He had not created any chain which could come to the branch manager or anyone else. He retired in May 2017. After this, present accused Yashwant Joshi took over. When the beneficiary’s employee came for a fresh LOU, in fact, this time Joshi pointed out that a Margin money is required for the allotment. The employee of the beneficiary told Joshi that in the past also the LOUs were issued without any Margin money. After this, Joshi took an objection and this whole matter came to light,” Tiwari, Joshi, and Sawant’s lawyer told ANI.

“Joshi’s initiative was crucial in earthing the fraud. He never signed any document. He forwarded all the documents through a proper channel to the chief manager,” the lawyer added.

For those unversed, the Punjab National Bank detected a 1.77 billion dollar scam in which jeweller Nirav Modi acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking from one of its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders.

The scam was started in 2011 and was detected in the third week of January this year, after which the PNB officials reported it to the concerned agencies.

Meanwhile, the PNB filed a second complaint with the CBI on February 13.

The CBI had received the complaint from the PNB on January 28 and a case was registered in the case on January 31. (ANI)