Mehul Choksi fraud: PNB itself victim, cannot be added as accused at this stage, says court
REJECTING THE application filed by one of the co-accused of absconding diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, seeking to add Punjab National Bank (PNB) as an accused in the alleged Rs 13,600-crore fraud case, the special court has said the bank itself is a victim.
“The material on record at this stage shows that Punjab National Bank is a victim in this case and the officers involved in the alleged conspiracy are arraigned as accused,” special judge V C Barde said.
It said no material at this stage exists on record to summon PNB as accused as per provisions of Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as sought by the application filed by Nitin Shahi. Shahi, the assistant finance officer of Gitanjali Gems, linked with Choksi, had sought to add PNB as accused alleging the bank’s own first internal investigation report showed that it was privy to the alleged illegality. The application claimed the bank had “conveniently shifted the blame on its employees” in order to save its skin.
The complaint in the fraud case was filed by officials of the PNB Brady House branch in January 2018, where it was alleged that Choksi and his nephew, Nirav Modi’s firms had connived to get fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) and Letters of Credit (LCs), in violation of rules mandated by the Reserve Bank of India. The accused alleged that in the internal report an entire chapter is on lapses, gaps and deviations by officials/divisions of the bank. Among the accused arrested by the CBI in the case was Gokulnath Shetty, the retired deputy manager of PNB, who continues to remain in custody.