RBI scraps LoUs, LOCs for trade credit

Reuters

Reuters

A day after Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barred lenedrs from issuing Letters of Understanding (LoUs), bank stocks took a hit in the equity market, causing the benchmark indices to lose nearly half a per cent in morning trade.

The bank is at the center of a fraud by billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

Indian investigators have so far arrested almost 20 people, including some senior executives of companies owned by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi as well as high-ranking officials of the Punjab National Bank, in the bank fraud probe.

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Both are accused on charges of money laundering (under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act) in alleged connivance with some employees of Punjab National Bank (PNB) and have been stated by probe agencies to have left India before criminal charges were pressed against them.

According to the CBI, PNB filed a supplementary complaint for "defrauding PNB in the sanctioned limit of the marginally noted companies (Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand) and Asmi Jewellery India Ltd for an additional amount of Rs 942.18 crore".

Last month, Nirav Modi commented saying, that PNB had closed all doors of recovering dues for his brand by going public.

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The alleged fraud has shaken India's banking sector, leading to a government and central bank crackdown on lenders' systems and practices.

The latest regulatory clampdown by the RBI came in the wake of fraud in Punjab National Bank.

In a major decision that could hamper business prospects of several banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday banned banks from issuing Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) on trade credits for imports.

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PNB has said it will honour only "bona fide" commitments, arguing other banks that lent to the jeweller groups shared in the blame by not carrying out adequate checks.

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