New Delhi: Key accused in the PNB fraud case, Mehul Choksi on Monday said that the actual culprits of the Rs 14,000 crore fraud are roaming free and being protected, while he has been implicated without any evidence. In a statement, Choksi accused Debajyoti Dutta, proprietor of Rishika Financials and Gokulnath Shetty, Deputy Manager of the Brady House branch of the Punjab National Bank, of being the real culprits behind the bank fraud.
The fraud came to light in January last year and the primary accused were diamantaires Nirav Modi and Choksi. Both absconded after the revelation of the fraud and while Modi was arrested in Britain last month, Choksi is still ensconced in the Caribbean island of Antigua. “Debajyoti Dutta of Rishika Financials, who was in the business of discount financing Letters of Undertakings, paid more than a crore of rupees of bribes to Gokulnath Shetty, Deputy Manager of the Brady (House) Branch of Punjab National Bank. Dutta has been conveniently and mysteriously made a witness in the case on behalf of PNB in the alleged scam, rather than an accused,” Choksi said.
He alleged that Dutta had charged an arranger fee for the service, which was known to and approved by senior PNB officials. The kickback that Shetty would get from Dutta was constant and illicit, according to Choksi. “This is not being investigated despite the fact that in his 20-page statement, Dutta has clearly outlined this clever arrangement in detail. But it is vital to note that not once in his statement, has Dutta linked his actions to Choksi or any of his firms.” Choksi also blamed the PNB of ignoring the illegal transactions between Dutta and Shetty.
The relationship between Dutta and Shetty would have ended with Shetty’s proposed transfer from the Brady House branch, in 2013, he said. “Curiously, not only was Shetty’s transfer stalled mysteriously, and valid explanation was made for the exception. No red flags were raised within the higher management of PNB and the nefarious activities at the Brady branch continued as usual. PNB, however, continues to pretend its innocence.”
He said that while some PNB officials have come under investigative scrutiny, the larger role of the the bank and its failure to exert oversight has been missed. The PNB report documents the fact that top level bank officials were aware of the fraud perpetrated by Dutta and choose to do nothing about it, Choksi added. “These were premeditated errors of commission that gave shape to the alleged scam.”
Choksi also expressed anguish over Dutta being made a witness in the case although he is allegedly bribed and made illegal transactions in the fraud. “I have borne the brunt of this investigation and paid the price with the loss of my business, built over three decades, despite the fact that not a single shred of evidence has been produced against me. In the interim, all the mistakes and corruption with the echelons of PNB have been conveniently ignored and covered up,” he said.