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PNB Scam: Court grants bail to the MD of three of the accused firms

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The trial court here granted bail to Dhanesh Vrajlal Sheth, managing director of three accused firms namely Nakshastra Brands Ltd, Ltd., Gilli India Ltd in the case of multi-crore fraud caused to Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Defence counsel, Vijay Aggarwal had sought bail on the ground that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge sheet against the accused. “…investigation is completed in the present case and charge sheet has been filed without the arrest of the accused person, which depicts that there was no need for custodial interrogation of Sheth,” Aggarwal argued.

Bail was granted on a surety of one lakh rupees.

The federal agency in its chargesheet had stated that Sheth in the capacity of the whole time director in accused firms Gitanjali Gems Ltd., Gilli India Ltd., and Nakshatra Brands Ltd., was part of the conspiracy. “…as a whole-time directors of these three firms Sheth signed with dishonest intent, the balance sheet, statement of profit & loss, cash flow statement of the three firms for the period ending March 31, 2015; March 31, 2016 and March 21,2017 which did not show letter of undertakings (LOUs) availed by these companies,” reads the charge sheet accessed by ET.

Last month, a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the CBI showed that the fugitive diamond trader accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank (PNB) of $2 billion first held meetings late 2017 with ‘dummy directors’ of his Hong Kong-based supplier companies, telling them that “they might have to face enquiries by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).”

He then fled India on January 4, 2018, and by February of that year, those directors were ‘relocated’ to Bangkok to evade investigations, said the latest CBI charge-sheet filed against 12 individuals and entities, including Choksi, Vipul Chitalia, the then Vice President – Banking Operations, Gitanjali Group, and former senior officials of PNB.

ET has seen a copy of the latest charge-sheet.

Choksi is currently fighting charges of illegal entry into the Carribean island-nation of Dominica.

“During December 2017, Choksi visited Hong Kong and met the dummy directors of Hong Kong-based supplier entities and told them that problems are going on in lndia, and that they might have to face ED enquiries,” reads the CBI charge-sheet. “This shows that Choksi had prior knowledge about the impending criminal proceedings.”

At the Hong Kong meeting, Choksi allegedly told the directors to apply for a Thailand visa as the operations in Hong Kong would be closed. Chitalia was allegedly tasked with the job of processing their work permits for Abbeycrest (Thailand) Ltd., Bangkok, a firm that was also controlled by Choksi. In January 2018, Chitalia told these executives that “Choksi had instructed they not visit lndia as they might face trouble from the investigating agencies,” reads the charge-sheet.

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