Friday, 9 March 2018

After PNB fraud, govt on guard against defaulters; WhatsApp message about Videocon's Dhoot triggers alarm

After PNB fraud, govt on guard against defaulters; WhatsApp message about Videocon's Dhoot triggers alarm

NEW DELHI: A WhatsApp message about Videocon Industries chairman and managing director Venugopal Dhoot fleeing the country set the alarm bells ringing in the government. An official even called up the company to check Dhoot’s whereabouts, but was relieved after being told that he was in the country.


“I have not been abroad for almost three years and I am not going anywhere,” Dhoot told TOI over the phone on Thursday as he sought to douse rumours on social media about him leaving the country. Videocon, which has loans of over Rs 25,000 crore, is on the second list of companies identified by the RBI, which are facing insolvency action. A few days ago, reports of a loan defaulter leaving the country had prompted intelligence agencies to call officials on a Sunday to dig out details about the company’s promoters and track them.






The Narendra Modi government, which had enjoyed a clean track record since sweeping to power in May 2014, is facing pressure over the Rs 12,600-crore fraud at Punjab National Bank involving diamond barons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who have fled the country and are refusing to return to face the law.


The scandal has triggered a series of steps, including a new legislation to confiscate assets of those who have fled the country and are evading arrest. Bankers are nervous and are filing complaints with investigative agencies on instructions from the finance ministry, which has asked them to scan all loan default cases of over Rs 50 crore to check for fraud. “If they don’t file a complaint within a fortnight, the management will be responsible,” said a source, indicating that the government is keen to avoid any blame and wants to ensure that loan defaulters do not flee the country to avoid facing the law. CBI has dug out old complaints and is lodging complaints now.

pnb



The government is busy trying to plug gaps. There are plans, such as sharing of details of loan defaulters with authorities manning emigration counters to stop them from leaving the country. Banks are also being advised to rework forms so that passport details are readily available for loans above Rs 50 crore.

Multiple agencies — from CBI and income tax department to Enforcement Directorate, serious frauds office and, in some cases, the directorate of revenue intelligence and customs authorities — are being roped in for “comprehensive investigation” whenever a complaint is received.


These agencies are resorting to seizing of assets and documents, with some officials complaining of severe overlap. “Another agency has seized documents that we have been looking for. So, investigations are also going to take time,” said an official.

0 comments:

Post a Comment