SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 25 FEBRUARY 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 20 | `5.00 |LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR WATER HARVESTING IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE LIVING IN RURAL AREAS WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT VINYL RECORDS WOULD MAKE A COMEBACK IN THIS DIGITAL AGE? WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature to be around 35 and 23 degrees Celsius respectively RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.81% TEMPERATURE Congress seeks RBI probe to fix accountability within 60 days in bank scams Min. 29% PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Max: 35.2°C (+5) Min: 21.7°C (+3) SUN SETS TODAY SUN RISES TOMORROW 17:39 hrs 06:01 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 12:53 hrs 01:33 hrs Full moon on 2 March THUMBNAILS Army soldiers display martial art skills at an event organised by the Indian Army's ASC Centre and College in Bangalore on Saturday. AFP Afghan attacks: At least 23 people, mostly soldiers, were killed and more than a dozen wounded in a series of attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan today, officials said, the latest assaults on the war-torn country’s beleaguered security forces. In the biggest attack, Taliban militants stormed an army base in the western province of Farah overnight, killing at least 18 soldiers. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Kerala lynching: Sixteen persons have been arrested in connection with the lynching to death of a tribal man for allegedly stealing articles from some shops in Palakkad district even as the Centre sought a report from the state over the incident. The arrest was made after the post-mortem report revealed that the deceased Madhu had injuries on the head and bruises all over the body, police said. There was internal bleeding and he had broken ribs, the report said. NEW DELHI, 24 FEBRUARY The Congress today hit out at the central government after yet another bank fraud involving a Delhi jeweller came to light and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi fix accountability of those involved in such cases within 60 days through a probe conducted by the RBI. The opposition party said the guilty in bank frauds should be brought to book as no one will invest in the country if questions are raised on its banking system and this will harm the country's growth. Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the attack on the prime minister alleging that the Delhi-based diamond jeweller involved in the scam “disappeared” like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya while the government looked the other way. He said the promoter of Dwarka Das Seth International, who was booked by the CBI for an alleged fraud of Rs 389.85 crore towards Oriental Bank of Commerce, operated with the same modus operandi of fake LoUs as Nirav Modi. “Under Modi Ji's ‘Jan Dhan Loot Yojana’, another scam!” 390 Crore, involving a Delhi based jeweller. Same Modus operandi as Nirav Modi. Fake LOU's. “Predictably, like Mallya and Nirav, this promoter too has disappeared while the Government looked the PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 24 FEBRUARY Jeweller booked for `389-cr OBC loan fraud INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 24 FEBRUARY Three fresh incidences of financial fraud have come to light as the CBI filed cases against a jeweller, a businessman and a public servant on complaints by three different banks earlier this week, an official said on Saturday. On Thursday, the CBI registered a case against Delhi's Karol Bagh-based diamond jewellery exporting firm Dwarka Das Seth International for an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 389.85 crore involving the Oriental Bank of Commerce. On Wednesday, it filed a case against businessman Amit Singla and others on a complaint of the Bank of Maharashtra for a loan through forged documents and its criminal misappropriation and use. The same day, the agency also filed a case against Inder Chand Chundawat, then senior branch manager in PNB’s Barmer office in Rajasthan, for abuse of his official position. The Oriental Bank of Commerce has alleged that it was defrauded by Delhi jeweller Dwarka Das Seth International and its owner Sabhya Seth. The loans turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) way back in 2014, but the bank approached the agency on 16 August last year, after the other way,” he tweeted. Gandhi also raised the issue during his rally in poll-bound Karnataka to attack Modi, asking him to first explain how the money was taken away from the bank under his nose. Congress leader Kapil Sibal demanded a thorough probe by the RBI into the alleged Rs 11,400-crore PNB fraud and said the prime minister should assure the nation that accountability of the finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India and the management of defaulting banks would be fixed within 60 days. “Until the prime minister gives an assurance to the country, people will think that administration is supporting those who were indulging in bank frauds. The money defrauded be brought back, guilty be booked, those involved in the conspiracy are dismissed and action be taken against them. “If questions are raised on the country's economy and banking system, then no investment will come in the country and this will harm the country's growth... We demand that there should be an RBI probe in the matter (PNB scam) at the earliest,” Sibal said. He also sought to know why people like Nirav Modi, who were indulging in banking scam, were “allowed to escape the country”. “The country has faced a loss of around Rs 21,000 crore as of now and other banking frauds will also come out in a few days. Another Rs 390 crore OBC (Oriental Bank of Commerce) scam has also emerged. “I am surprised that despite our prime minis- company had folded up and Seth fled the country. The CBI has started tracing India-based directors and partners of the firm. The Oriental Bank of Commerce complaint has alleged that the Dwarka Das Seth International took loans by way of letters of credit and other such credit facilities for gold jewellery export/import between 2007 and 2012 but failed to pay back. A probe by the bank found that the firm had indulged in roundtripping of funds through fictitious companies abroad and had utilised funds by discounting bills based on the letters of credit of foreign banks, which were either non-existent or had negative ratings. ter being the most expensive 'chawkidar' (watchman), why are all these (banking frauds) happening under his nose,” Sibal told a press conference here, taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refrain during poll rallies that he would act as a watchman for the country, He said that if questions are raised on the banking system, it impacts the country's economy and affects investment as international trade is done through the banking system. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today blamed inadequate oversight by regulators and auditors as well as sloppy bank management for the Rs 11,400-crore fraud at the state-owned Punjab National Bank, and said if needed laws would be tightened to punish fraudsters. Speaking for the second time this week on the scandal enveloping PNB, Jaitley slammed lack of ethics in certain sections of businesses and said multiple layers of auditing system chose to either look the other way or did a casual job. Without naming either the alleged kingpin of the fraud, billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, or PNB, he said it is “worrisome” that not a single red flag was raised when the fraud was perpetuated. Also, worrisome is “top managements who were indifferent to what was going on or were unaware of what was going on,” he said at a business summit here. There were “at least multiple layers of auditing system which chose to either look the other way or do a casual job. You had inadequate supervision,” he said. “I think who did what, will eventually find out in the course of investigation.” Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and firms linked to them are alleged to have acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) Choksi tells employees to look for jobs elsewhere ED attaches houses, land worth ` 523 crore MUMBAI, 24 FEBRUARY AGENCIES Indians win T20I series: Indian women accomplished a historic double as they outclassed South Africa by 54 runs in the fifth and final Twenty20 International to clinch the series 3-1 in Cape Town on Saturday after winning the One Day International series 2-1. Mithali Raj (62) and Jemimah Rodrigues (44) helped India score 166/4 before the hosts were skittled out for 112 in 18 overs. The Indian men also won the third and final Twenty20 International against South Africa by seven runs, clinching the series 2-1. Chasing 173 to win, the Proteas only managed 165/6, despite a late charge. P12 MUMBAI, 23 FEBRUARY Gitanjali Gems Ltd promoter Mehul Choksi who along with his nephew Nirav Modi is accused in the Rs11,400 crore fraud in the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) has told his employees to look out other opportunities elsewhere as it would be tough for him to clear their dues and pay The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today attached 21 properties, including a penthouse and a farmhouse, of Nirav Modi and his group worth over Rs 523 crore in fresh action against the beleaguered jeweller in the alleged Rs 11,400 crore fraud in the PNB. The probe agency said it has issued a provisional order for attachment future salaries, in view of the seizing of various properties and bank accounts by government agencies. of the assets, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and seized a Rs 81.16 crore valued penthouse and a flat worth Rs 15.45 crore in the seafacing Samudra Mahal apartments in the Worli area of Mumbai. “21 immovable properties of Nirav Modi and companies controlled by him, with a market value of Rs 523.72 crore, have been provisionally atta- ched. These include 6 residential properties, ten office premises, 2 flats in Pune, a solar power plant, a farmhouse in Alibaug and 135 acres of land in Karjat in Ahmednagar district,” the agency said. While the agency had earlier seized gems, diamonds, jewellery, shares, bank deposits and costly cars in this case since it registered a criminal case on February 14, this is the first major action to seize immovable assets. While the Samudra Mahal properties and two other flats in Punes Hadapsar area are in the name of Modi and his wife Ami, the assets attached in the Kalaghoda and Opera House area in the Maharashtra capital are in the name of Modi's diamond firm ~ Firestarter Diamond International Private LimPTI ited. In his letter Choksi said that he has done no wrong, however it will take time to prove his innocence and the future seems uncertain at present. "I will face my destiny and I know I have done nothing wrong. Ulti- mately the truth will prevail," said Choksi is his letter which is addressed to the staff members of its India India, China agree to address differences; FS on Beijing trip STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 24 FEBRUARY Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Saturday concluded a quiet two-day visit to Beijing to discuss bilateral issues with the Chinese leadership amid indications by both countries of their intention to put last summer's Doklam military standoff behind them. While there was no word from the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, the Indian Embassy in Beijing announced, ''The foreign secretary is visiting China to discuss the bilateral agenda, exchange plans and visits for 2018." Gokhale, a former Indian Ambassador to China who played a pivotal role in resolving the 73-day military faceoff at Doklam, held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Vice Foreign Min- Jaitley slams regulators, auditors for scam ‘Jan Dhan Loot Yojana’ jab as more frauds surface ister Kong Xuanyou and State Councillor Wang Yi , who is the Special Representative on the Chinese side for India-China boundary talks. During the consultations, the two sides reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, including high level exchanges, and discussed the agenda for bilateral engagement in the coming months. “Both sides agreed upon the need to expedite various dialogue mechanisms in order to promote multifaceted cooperation across diverse fields of India-China engagement. They noted the need to build on the convergences between India and China and address differences on the basis of mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s concerns, interests and aspirations,” the embassy said in a release. Both sides underlined that as two major countries, sound development of relations between India and China is a factor of stability in the world today. The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest. The Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted the Chinese Foreign Minister as saying during the meeting with Gokhale that he hoped New Delhi would handle sensitive issues prudently and work with Beijing to promote the smooth development of Sino-Indian ties. The remarks are important in the context of sharp differences between India and China over a host of interna- tional issues, including the situation in the Maldives. Gokhale said he was happy to visit Beijing at the very beginning of his term as Foreign Secretary. “India attaches great importance to its relations with China and is willing to work with China to implement the consensus of leaders, strengthen strategic communications, take care of each other's core concerns and create a good atmosphere and conditions for the sustained and steady development of bilateral relations,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. India became a full member of the SCO last year. A series of other important bilateral visits are also expected to take place between the two countries in the coming months. operations. The letter was released by his lawyers office. The company has some 3500 employees in India. In his letter Choksi also expressed concern about the manner in which multiple investigative agencies/government agencies have come down upon him. He alleged that the investigative agencies were not interested in a fair investigation but in creating a fear psychosis in the minds of employees. Given the state of affairs, staff members are free to pursue other opportunities elsewhere, said Choksi explaining his "helplessness" in being unable to clear their past dues or pay future salaries. from one PNB branch in Mumbai between 2011 and 2017 to obtain loans from Indian banks overseas for which they were ineligible. Investigative agencies have raided their properties and arrested bank employees and persons linked to his firms. “Regulators have a very important function. Regulators ultimately decide the rules of the game and regulators have to have a thirdeye which is to be perpetually be open,” Jaitley said. “But unfortunately in the Indian system, we politicians are accountable, the regulators are not.” The frauds call for tightening regulations where they are lacking, he said. “The law would be tightened further, if necessary, in order to find out where they (fraudsters) are and what is the extreme action that law permits against such delinquent persons.” Jaitley said Indian businesses have to realise that it has to develop a habit of doing ethical business. “Those who deviate from that cause must always remember that the consequences will not only be commercial and civil.” Passports of Nirav, Choksi revoked NEW DELHI, 24 FEBRUARY The passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the main accused in the Rs 11,400 crore PNB scam, have been revoked, external affairs ministry sources said today. On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the ministry had suspended the validity of their passports with immediate effect for a period of four weeks on February 16 and given one week's time to them to respond as to why their passports should not be impounded or revoked. “Since they have not responded so far, their passports have been revoked,” a ministry source said. PTI Bolero ploughs through kids in Bihar; nine dead Aruna Reddy becomes 1st Indian gymnast to win World Cup medal PATNA, 24 FEBRUARY PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MELBOURNE, 24 FEBRUARY As many as nine schoolchildren were killed and 20 others were seriously wounded when a speeding Bolero car ran them over while they were leaving for their homes after dispersal of classes. The incident took place in Muzaffarpur district today. Police said the students of a government middle school located at Dharampur village in the district were crossing the highway after their school closed when the speeding car ploughed through them. Local villagers rushed to the spot and admitted the injured children to a local hospital where nine of them were declared brought dead. The condition of four of the injured is said to be critical. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the incident and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to each victim family. SNS Aruna Budda Reddy today created history by becoming the first Indian gymnast to win an individual medal at the Gymnastics World Cup as she clinched a bronze in the women's vault event here. The 22-year-old Reddy, who hails from Hyderabad, scored 13.649 average points to win the bronze at the Hisense Arena here. Tjasa Kysslef of Slovania won the gold with a score of 13.800 while Emily Whitehead of Australia took the silver with 13.699. Another Indian in the final round, Pranati Nayak finished sixth with a score of 13.416. The sport of gymnastics has a series of World Cup events in a year and they are second in importance after the World Championships. “Aruna is now the first and the only Indian to have won a medal in the World Cup and we are proud of her,” Shantikumar Singh, secretary of a faction of Gymnastics Federation of India, told PTI. Dipa Karmakar, who finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics in women's vault event, has won a bronze each in the Asian Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games but not at the level of a World Cup. This was Aruna's first international medal through she has taken part at the 2013World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 Asian Games and the 2017 Asian Championships. Her best international performance before today's feat was the sixth place finish at the 2017 Asian Championships vault event. In all the other international events, she could not go beyond the qualification stage. Aruna will also contest in the final round of the floor event tomorrow.
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