NEW DELHI: The political slugfest over the mega Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud continued on Friday with the Opposition blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for overlooking the scam and the BJP saying the swindling started during the previous UPA government’s rule.
“Why is the government mum? Did the PM, Enforcement Directorate, Corporate Affairs Ministry, SFIO, SEBI and governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat have prior knowledge of the scam as early as May 7, 2015? Why did they not take any action,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
He also asked the Prime Minister to come clean on the total loss to the banks and said the scam may run into multiples of crores.
According to Surjewala, while the PNB had admitted to a fraud of Rs 11,000 crore, exposure to 30 bank loans extended to four companies worth Rs 9,906 crore, depreciation in PNB stock worth Rs 7,000 crore took the figure to Rs 28,000 crore.
In addition, exposure of banks to three more companies Diamonds R us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds, which is estimated between Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 crore, pushed the scam value over Rs 30,000 crore, he said.
Hitting back, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the PNB scam began in 2011, and it was due to the alertness of the NDA government that it could come to light. Javadekar cited the claims of former government nominee on the board of the Allahabad Bank Dinesh Dubey to assert that despite dissent, loans were disbursed to Gitanjali Gems, embroiled in the raging PNB scam, during the UPA regime.
“The Finance Secretary during the UPA’s time, instead of taking action forced Dinesh Dubey to resign. We are asking who forced Dubey to resign,” Javadekar said.
He also shared e-mails written by Dubey to the RBI against loans being disbursed to Gitanjali Gems despite the poor track record of the company.
However, Rajiv Takru, who was the Finance Secretary in 2013, said he had met Dubey only once. “I met this person (Dubey) only once in my life. He had come to my office to resign in 2013. The reason behind the resignation was that he was unhappy over something. I accepted his resignation. I have never spoken to him since,” Takru told ANI.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and TMC’s Derek O’Brien too slammed the PM. “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is...#LalitModi #VijayMallya #NiravModi,” Yechury tweeted.