Punjab National Bank is one of the popular multinational banking and financial services company. This Valentine’s Day, its popularity reached another height when it turned out to be the victim of the year’s biggest banking con job.
PNB detected the fraudulent transactions in the third week of January this year. With proper calculations, the exact amount was discovered to be a whooping $1.77 billion (Rs 11,360 crore approx) at one of its branches in Mumbai. The issue came to full view two weeks later. The names of those who were involved, was initially not revealed. But, the name that came up at the center of the scam was Nirav Modi, one of the richest billionaire jeweller. Of course, such large scams are not possible if there isn’t someone who is aiding him from inside the bank. Sure enough, two of its employees were found to have received money on behalf of PNB by issuing fake Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) to foreign branches of Indian Banks. These transactions never got recorded in the core system of the bank.
According to a note sent by PNB to the other banks, a similar method was used by the same officials of PNB to route money to companies like Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra. It was also added that LoUs were opened for pearl import for which total time period allowed by RBI was 90 days. Overseas branches of some banks didn’t pay much heed to the rule and as such breached it. Also, it is claimed that many of these banks haven’t shared important documents regarding the credit with PNB.
This fraud case is now being called as the second biggest money scam in India after Vijay Mallya. Speculations are raining down as to how this billionaire jeweller managed to pull off such a heist. People’s hard earned money is saved in banks, but here we are under the air of unpredictability and uncertainty about who might make use of our money and whether we will actually get them back.
Apart from Nirav Modi and his little band of minions who helped him, a lot of political names have become entwined with his name, including the Prime Minister of the country. What is even amazing: Nirav and his family managed to escape the country way before PNB could figure out that there is something really fishy going on. Yes, it is true that he has enough finances to escape legal procedures against him. But there had to be someone who helped to keep the whole issue under the hush-hush covers.
How long would it take for the justice system of India to learn to deal with such cases on time? We as common masses feel helpless when the money that we earn with our blood and sweat goes down to feed those whose appetite can never be satiated. And the lawmakers, our representatives, on whom we base our trusts, when they turn out to be the ones who are ruining us, who do we turn to?