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Mudda panellists feel that VIP culture gave rise to the banking frauds, BJP government culpable as they were going on for quite some time

Celebrity jeweller Nirav Modi, the alleged kingpin of one of the largest banking scams in recent history, has said in a letter to the Punjab National Bank’s management that the PNB’s overzealousness has shut the doors on his ability to clear the dues. APN’s popular debate took up the issue regarding how the money shall be recovered now. Anchorperson Anurag spoke to panelists including former DGP Anand Lal Banerjee, BJP’s Ashok Goyal, Congress’ Surendra Rajput, Workers Banking Association’s Ashwani Rana, economist Dr Ravi Singh and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Goyal said: “This scam has been going on since 2011. At least a probe has been ordered, and lookout notices have been served against the main players.” He added that fraudsters will always say they can’t return the money, but Rs 6,500 crore has been seized already, and investigations are on at full speed.”

Rajput said he does not understand what Goyal is talking. “The ED is saying that less than Rs 6,500 crore has been recovered. Why is the BJP representative going back to 2013? Banking scams are unearthed in 90 days. Nirav Modi, Nishal Modi and Mehul Choksi are part of the VIP culture that nurtures such scams. Why did Nirav Modi remove his kids mid-session from school and sent them to the US? How come Nirav Modi was allowed to meet the PM in Davos? These are our questions,” he said.

Goyal said: “Rajput has no financial knowledge.” This triggered a heated exchange between Goyal and Rajput.

Goyal said: “Round tripping of finance has been going on for quite some time. In 2013, share trading of Gitanajali Gems (of Mehul Choksi) was suspended by SEBI, but in three months, it was reinstated. Rahul Gandhi used to go to cocktail parties thrown by Choksi and Modi.”

Banerjee said Nirav Modi should be extradited like Abu Salem was in the past. “Steps should be taken to prevent such scams from happening in the future. In France, US, etc., the government does not interfere with the workings of the central bank. Someone has to be made accountable. It’s ironical that PNB was the recipient of the Vigilance Excellence Award,” he said.

Rana said: “The scam was going on since 2011. Loopholes have been exploited. RBI has announced system changes now, but certain loopholes were exploited in the past.”

Dr Ravi Singh said: “It’s a big loss for the Modi government. The scam has had an effect in the share market. The faith of the common man is shaken. How come such a big fraud was going on and banking top brass did not know anything about it? For me, the bigger issue is with the bureaucracy rather than the politicians.”

Raju said: “The scam has had an impact on the overall economy and politicians are busy indulging in mudslinging.   The scams unearthed in the last 10 years have resulted in huge losses for the common man. In regular banking procedure when it comes to dealing with the common man, balance sheets are closely scrutinised. How come with Nirav Modi, this important factor was winked at?”

Rajput said: “Like in the Telgi scam, and the scams related to Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh and many others unearthed during the Congress regimes, all criminals were brought to book. How come even after red alert, Nirav Modi met the PM? The government seems more worried about claiming that the scam has been going on since before the BJP came to power.”

He added: “Scamsters have to be sent to jail, probe should be ordered no matter how resourceful the guilty person is.”

Banerjee said: “The confidence of the people in the system is shaken. A change in the system is needed.”

Rana said: “At some places loopholes need to be plugged. The entire system is not so bad.”

Singh said: “LoU is like a bank guarantee, so that loan can be cleared. Small bank frauds led to bigger frauds. Payments were made back in smaller amounts. The government has told banks to correct the NPAs.”

Raju said: “The end impact is on the common man. A bailout package will also affect the common man only since the government cannot do any payouts from its own pocket. The Jan Dhan yojanas, note ban and so on inspired people to put money in banks; but now one can see how the system is exploited by those who know how to get their way. There seem to be different rules in operation for the VIPs.”

Rajput said: “The PM has to send out a stern warning that the fraudsters will not be allowed to go scot free.”

Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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