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PNB scam accused says ready to join probe via video link

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Sunil Varma, international business head of Gitanjali Gems and an accused in the multi-million dollar PNB scam, on Thursday told a special court here he is willing to join the probe through a video link.

Varma, believed to be in the US, moved an application through his lawyer before special CBI judge V C Barde, expressing his willingness to join the probe.

According to CBI, Varma fled the country just days before the nearly Rs 14,000-crore PNB scam came to light in January last year.

Fugitive diamond merchants Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are the prime accused in the scam, involving loan fraud and money laundering.

Varma is the international business head of Gitanjali Gems, owned by Choksi, who is in the Caribbean nation of Antigua after fleeing India.

Choksi and his companies allegedly availed credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using the fraudulent guarantees of PNB given through letters of undertaking (LoUs) and letters of credit which were not repaid, bringing liability on the state-run lender.

An LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant.

Varma allegedly played a key role in executing the LoUs that were obtained fraudulently.

Various government agencies, including the CBI, are probing the PNB fraud, the biggest banking scam in the country, and making efforts to bring back Nirav Modi and Choksi to face trial.

The matter will come up for hearing on September 5.

Nirav Modi, lodged in a UK jail, is accused of being the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of LoUs as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of the crime.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 22 2019. 23:50 IST