NEW DELHI: Punjab National Bank (PNB) on Saturday reported a fraud of over Rs 3,800 crore by Bhushan Power and Steel, which is a non-performing asset for lenders and is facing insolvency action.
The intimation to the Reserve Bank of India follows a forensic audit investigation by the CBI, which has filed a first information report (FIR) against the company and its directors, alleging diversion of funds, PNB said in a stock exchange filing. Sources in the bank said the decision was taken by a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India, which has also informed the RBI.
In a stock exchange filing, PNB said its large corporate branch in Chandigarh had an exposure of close to Rs 3,200 crore to the controversial company, while there was an overseas exposure of Rs 345 crore through its branch in Dubai and another facility of Rs 268 crore was extended by the Hong Kong branch.
PNB has been in the eye of a storm after a Rs 14,000-crore fraud by diamond merchants Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi through its branches at Mumbai’s Brady House and Hong Kong was detected in early 2018. The public sector lender has been reported losses in four of the last five quarters.
For the Singhals too, this is the latest headache as they are facing multiple investigations after their failure to repay loans to banks. The company, along with Bhushal Steel, has been under the lens for the past several years as their investments were suspected to have been overvalued.
The Singal brothers — Sanjay and Neeraj— had split their businesses a few years ago with the latter taking control of Bhushan Power and Steel.
Just last week, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), filed 70,000 pages in a Delhi court listing multiple wrongdoings against Bhushan Steel promoters, auditors and independent directors. These included change in the stocks and diversion of funds. Bhushan Power and Steel, too, is facing an SFIO probe.
While Bhushan Steel has been taken over by Tata Steel