PNB may hire ‘forensic auditor’ to crack Modi LoU story

K. R. Srivats | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021

Bank clarifies that it has not placed withdrawal limits

Punjab National Bank (PNB) may appoint a forensic auditor to delve into the ₹11,300-crore Letter of Undertaking (LoU) fraud perpetrated by Nirav Modi and his relatives.

While appointing a forensic auditor is on the radar of the bank’s management, there is no truth to media reports that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been engaged to conduct an investigation into the alleged fraud, sources said.

If the bank were to decide on appointing a forensic auditor, the process may not take long as it could be done without calling for bids due to the critical circumstances, they said.

Meanwhile, the CA Institute-appointed special group studying systemic issues in the PNB matter met for the first time in Mumbai on Friday.

The CA Institute, which is the regulator of the audit profession, has been suffering negative public perception about the efficacy of its disciplinary mechanism.

Ever since the PNB fraud came to light, there has been a clamour among policymakers and retired bankers that an independent authority be set up to ensure oversight of auditors. The government, after taking some steps towards setting up of a National Financial Reporting Authority, has developed cold feet on the matter and was showing no urgency for such a reform despite the situation on the ground, economy watchers rued.

Brand ambassador

On Friday evening PNB issued a statement denying media reports that Virat Kohli, its brand ambassador, was going to discontinue his endorsement of the bank. “Virat Kohli is our brand ambassador,” a PNB release said.

PNB also denied reports on social media and other platforms that withdrawals by customers have been capped at ₹3,000. “It is absolutely incorrect, no such limit has been fixed by the bank and normal banking activities are going on as usual. No restrictions on withdrawals have been imposed,” the PNB release said.

The Enforcement Directorate on Friday tweeted that ₹30 crore in bank accounts and shares worth ₹13.86 crore held in a Nirav Modi company have been frozen. Acting on a tip, the ED also recovered a huge quantity of “imported watches” stacked in 176 steel almirahs, 158 corrugated boxes and 60 plastic containers.

 

Published on February 23, 2018
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