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India's state-run banks rise on PNB compensation hopes, easing rate woes

14 March, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • Arun Jaitley

The RBI had issued two circulars in 2016 to banks on strengthening the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system, the misuse of which was unveiled last month in the Rs 12,600 crore fraud on state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

The RBI has taken other fraud-control measures like bringing out a framework for dealing with loan frauds above Rs 50 crore, creating an online Central Fraud Registry, issuing caution advices detailing names of fraudsters and their modus operandi and ordering banks to re-verify the title deeds for all credit exposures above Rs 5 crore.

The bank has accused two jewellery groups - one controlled by diamond tycoon Nirav Modi and the other by his uncle, Mehul Choksi - of colluding with rogue bank employees to secure credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using fraudulently issued guarantees largely in the form of letters of undertaking. Accordingly, in the Choksi case, the total amount allegedly defrauded between 2013 and 2017 is now about ₹7,080.86 crore, said the agency. LoUs and LoCs are two of the instruments issued by Indian banks to domestic importers to get foreign exchange from banks overseas at a cheaper rate. The CBI has also arrested officials of the Brady House branch of PNB for their alleged involvement in the fraud.

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The maximum punishment for the offence under section 409 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) is life imprisonment.

The logo of Punjab National Bank (PNB) is seen on a branch office window in New Delhi, India, February 27, 2018. The court has directed the CBI to file its reply and will hear the plea on Thursday.

Thus, the earlier master circulation of RBI said, "Banks should not extend any non-fund based facilities or additional/ad-hoc credit facilities to parties who are not their regular constituents, nor should they discount bills drawn under LCs, or otherwise, for beneficiaries who are not their regular clients. This amount has nothing to do with any new fraudulent LoUs/LoCs", the PNB clairification said.

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