By Ruma Dubey
So two guys, relatives, Mehul Choksey and Nirav Modi, are already successful jewelers in India and they now want to spread their footprints out of India.
But to expand abroad, they needed loads of money. Modi was a regular one on page three; a socialite who had his own clout and cronies in all the right places.
Modi had two options – he either gets a loan from an Indian bank at 11-12% interest rate or go for a forex currency loan at 3-5% interest. The banks abroad were not willing to lend as much as Modi needed as his income did not support that kind of debt. So the duo strikes upon a round tripping idea. They decide to get Letter of Understandings (LoUs) from an Indian bank; this is more like being a guarantor, saying that the people are creditworthy.
Even the bank issuing the LoUs, under normal circumstance, would not be able to satisfy such a huge need (greed), so they hatch the idea of a fraud. They get an assistant manager in the Mumbai branch and another forex employee to collude and make forged LoUs. They submit this LoU to HSBC and coming from the second largest PSU bank of India, they thought it was good enough. Thus money starts coming in and the story of the forged LoUs continue. Not one or two but what we learn now is 142 LoUs were made. The lending continued and when it had reached a huge pile, HSBC asked for repayment of one of the older ones; that did not happen and that is when this was escalated to PNB; that’s when it was known that ahuge robbery was taking place right under their nose.
One cannot help but wonder, how this happened? Can someone as lower in the rung as an Assistant Manager pull a bank like PNB down, all alone? Definitely not! Dozens of people are sure to be involved. There are three “checks” before a loan is given so how come not a single one detect this scam? Or is it that the all the checks were just flouted? And what exactly does the RBI do? Forex transactions of such magnitude and it did not know at all? How come SWIFT did not detect a fraud?
For people like you and me, this is not a shock anymore; it is frustrating! Instead of debating over whether this happened under UPA or NDA ( it continued under both), why aren’t the leaders concentrating on getting to the bottom of this and finding a solution to stop such scams happening over and over again? We do not get even a lakh of rupee without submitting a mound of documents, getting hundreds of calls to ensure EMI is paid or thousands more if it is missed. And then such fraudsters come and loot thousands of crores, again and again and we are left to clear the mess. Already drowning in NPAs, thanks to previous fraudsters, we now have more coming out.
The truth is that be it BJP or UPA, Indians by nature are corrupt just as they are dirty with little or no civic sense. So we cannot have a Swachcha Bharat; that’s simply how we Indians are.
The debates will rage on and one for some time and then die down. The culprits have always managed to flee the country before the law authorities’ swoop in – right from Mallya, Lalit Modi and the entire family of Choksey and Nirav Modi have scooted. And we are sitting here debating.
For me and you, like the message doing the rounds in Whatsapp - if you keep the money in the bank, Nirav Modi loots; if you keep the money at home, Narendra Modi might call you a black marketer and take it all away and if you put money in IPL, there is the fear of Lalit Modi. So where do hard working and earning individuals keep their money safe? That’s the real question…. Not whether money is recovered or the corrupt are punished.