CBI questions former RBI deputy governor in PNB scam

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NEW DELHI, APR 06
The Central Bureau of Investigation is questioning former deputy governor of Reserve Bank of India – Harun Rashid Khan in its probe related to Rs 13,500 crore fraud committed by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi with the Punjab National Bank.
Khan, who was deputy governor of the federal bank between 2011 and 2016, is also being asked about the lapses in the statutory audit of the central regulator due to which Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud remained undetected for a long time as the SWIFT messaging system was misused.
RBI’s audit usually takes a hands off approach. The central bank does not focus on the operations within a branch but looks at the systems within a bank.
Khan, sources said, was also asked about 20:80 gold import scheme introduced by then finance minister P Chidambaram on May 13, 2014, barely three days before the counting of votes of 2014 general election.
Earlier, CBI had questioned four RBI officers – including three chief general managers (CGMs) and one general manager (GM) on Thursday on similar lines.The Narendra Modi government had last month accused Chidambaram of aiding jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi through the 20:80 gold import scheme. The policy allowed starred/premier private trading houses to sell 80 per cent gold imports in the country and export at least 20 per cent before importing new consignments. In a statement, the government had said the UPA government’s 20:80 scheme resulted in a windfall gain of Rs 4,500 crore to 13 trading houses in six months.
Choksi run Gitanjali Jems, sources say, had imported 300 kg of gold from June to November 2013 and another 400 kg between June and November 2014. The questioning of RBI officers comes four weeks after the NDA government issued a statement saying it would act against people who relaxed gold import rules for private trading houses during the previous dispensation. The original 20:80 gold scheme enabled private traders to import gold provided they had an export track record and they exported 20 per cent of the imported gold as value added jewellery.
On May 21, 2014, after the election results but before swearing in of the new government, the RBI issued a circular diluting the original circular norms.
The Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association, had complained that the May 21 circular was unfair as it gave a few private parties an edge over banks that were importing gold for jewellers. They alleged that the norms allowed export houses to import up to two tonnes of gold and even those who were not engaged in bullion or gold jewellery business. According to IBJA, the export houses were importing only to take advantage of the price differential between India and abroad and there was no real export of jewellery.

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