Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

RBI had cautioned banks multiple times on SWIFT misuse: Government

PNB fraud case RBI discontinues system of issuing Letters of Undertaking system PNB fraud case RBI discontinues system of issuing Letters of Undertaking system
Russell Knight | 14 March, 2018, 03:15

The Rs 12,700-crore fraud at Punjab National Bank has prompted the Reserve Bank of India to ban the use of letters of undertaking (LoUs) and letters of comfort (LoCs).

The Punjab National Bank told police officials that it has uncovered additional exposure of about Rs 942 crore in connection with the massive alleged fraud it is at the centre of, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

"Letters of credit and bank guarantees for trade credits may continue to be issued subject to compliance with the regulations". The guaranties are given for import of all non-capital goods permissible under the Foreign Trade Policy (except gold), and up to three years for import of capital goods.

State Bank of India and three other state-run banks, Union Bank of India, UCO Bank and Allahabad Bank, are among lenders who have extended credit based on the LoUs issued by PNB that were later found to be fraudulent. This is with response to a Hindustan Times Report mentioning that Nirav Modi in an email had offered jewelry worth Rs. 2,000 crore, current account deposits of Rs 200 crore and immovable properties of Rs 50 crore to settle part of his liabilities.

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PNB, the second largest state-run bank, had on February 14 informed the exchanges of detecting Dollars 1.77 billion fraud at its Brady House branch in Horniman Circle area of south Mumbai and named the firms led by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi's Gitanjali Group and some other diamond and jewelry merchants as suspects.

The RBI decision could potentially push up the cost of imports by up to half a percentage point, besides putting foreign banks on an even keel with Indian banks in financing imports, bankers said.

He said as per inputs from PNB, messages were sent via Swift system to overseas branches of Indian banks, regarding fraudulently issued LoUs/FLCs without entering the transactions in the bank's Core Banking System (CBS).

He further said that PNB has appraised that it has taken several steps to ensure that such unauthorised activities are not repeated.

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