Indian auditor group begins probe into PNB fraud case

The state-controlled regulator for accountants is probing whether auditors played a role in perpetrating the alleged $1.77 billion fraud that Punjab National Bank unearthed last week. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Indian auditor group begins probe into PNB fraud case

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), a state-controlled regulator for the sector, has said it is probing whether auditors played a role in perpetrating the alleged $1.77 billion fraud that Punjab National Bank unearthed last week.
The ICAI said on Thursday it has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and federal investigating agencies to share their findings about the alleged fraud, including anything related to the involvement of any chartered accountants.
The ICAI, which functions under the administrative control of India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs, said it has set up a committee to study the systemic lapses that contributed to the fraud and to suggest remedial measures and improvement.
Separately, the Economic Times newspaper reported that PNB has tapped PwC to conduct a probe into the alleged fraud that would help the bank build a case against jewelers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
PNB officials were not immediately reachable for comment, while PwC declined to comment on the matter.
Modi, his companies, and firms with links to his uncle Choksi, are at the center of the alleged fraud that involved illegally issued letters of undertaking from PNB which were used to get credit from overseas branches of other, mostly Indian banks.
In what has been dubbed the biggest loan fraud in India’s banking history, police have so far arrested at least a dozen people — six from the bank and six more from Modi’s and Choksi’s companies.
A lawyer for Modi has denied his client was involved in any fraud. Choksi has not commented but his firm, Gitanjali Gems , has also denied involvement in the alleged fraud.


India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

Updated 14 min 49 sec ago
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India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

  • The city of Thoothukudi had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant
  • Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied

NEW DELHI: An Indian copper smelter at the centre of a police shooting that left 13 protesters dead has been granted permission to reopen by the country's environmental court.
The Sterlite plant, owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, was closed after the bloody police crackdown in May on protesters who say the smelter is poisoning the air and water.
Vedanta Resources, owned by Indian-born billionaire tycoon Anil Agarwal, had appealed against the plant's closure by the state government of Tamil Nadu where it is located.
The National Green Tribunal, a federal authority which rules on environmental matters, ordered Saturday that the plant in Thoothukudi city could resume operation.
Sterlite CEO P. Ramnath on Sunday welcomed the decision.
"We are happy that all those affected by the closure will get back their source of livelihood and the town of Thoothukudi will revert to normalcy," he said in a statement on Twitter.
The Tamil Nadu state government has said it will appeal the decision in India's highest court.
The city of Thoothukudi, previously known as Tuticorin, had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant, one of the largest in India.
Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied.
The demonstrations intensified in May after Vedanta sought to double the annual capacity of the plant.
On May 22, police opened fire on thousands of protesters, killing 13 people.
The plant was shuttered by the state government in the aftermath of the shooting.
The company denies all charges and maintains that it adheres to the best environmental standards.
The federal green court ordered Vedanta to spend one billion rupees ($13.9 million) over three years to assist local communities.
But it criticised the pollution regulators in Tamil Nadu, saying they stalled the case by tying up the company in paperwork.