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Barclays charged for fraud with Qatar dealings

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London, June 20: Barclays bank and its four former executives have been charged during the 2008 global financial crisis for committing fraud in its capital raising arrangements with Qatar.

When financial sector was crashing, serious Fraud Office had for years been investigating the British bank, its former CEO John Varley and three former executives for their roles in fundraising efforts with Qatari investment entities.

In a statement, the SFO said: “The charges relate to Barclays Plc’s capital raising arrangements with Qatar Holding LLC and Challenger Universal Ltd, and a $3 billion loan facility made available to Qatar acting through the Ministry of Economy and Finance in November 2008.”

On July 3, Varley, Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris and Richard Boath have to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

All of them will charge for false representation in relation to the bank’s capital raising in June 2008.

Barclays, Varley, and Jenkins, will face a second charge of conspiracy to commit fraud in October 2008.

This is the first ever charge on former most senior executives of banking entity in the UK.

Wefornews Bureau

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Share price of Gitanjali Gems hit lower circuit, PNB slips over 7%

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Mumbai, Feb 19: Shares of Gitanjali Gems extended losses for the fourth consecutive session on Monday — plunging almost 10 percent to its lower circuit level at Rs 33.80 per scrip — while those of Punjab National Bank (PNB) slipped over 7 percent.

On a closing basis, PNB’s scrips fell by Rs 9.25 per share, or 7.36 percent, to Rs 116.40 on the BSE.

The stocks of jewellery company Geetanjali Gems continued the plunge a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted search operations in six franchise-based outlets located in four malls in Kolkata in connection with $1.8 billion banking fraud case.

Following the unravelling of the multi-crore PNB fraud, two senior officials of Gitanjali Gems — Chandrakant Karkare and Pankhuri Warange — resigned from the company, according to a regulatory filing with the stock exchanges on Monday.

Shares of PNB, too, declined after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday sealed the Brady House Branch of the bank as multiple probe agencies continued with their probe into the multi-crore fraud.

The shares of the two companies started to decline following the country’s second largest state-run bank PNB’s declaration of unearthing a fraud of Rs 11,300 crore involving diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The fraud, which included money-laundering among others, concerned the Firestar Diamonds group in which the CBI booked Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal Modi and uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi — who promotes the luxury jewellery brand Gitanjali Gems.

Last week, the ED launched a nationwide raid on the offices, showrooms and workshops of Nirav Modi. The CBI registered an FIR against the Gitanjali Group of companies based on a complaint registered by the PNB.

On Sunday, the ED conducted searches at over 45 more locations in 15 cities across India in connection with the scam.

IANS

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Key Indian equity indices open in red

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Mumbai, Feb 19: Key Indian equity indices on Monday opened on a lower note as investors booked profits in metals, capital goods, oil and gas, and banking stocks.

At one point, the BSE Sensex dropped over 100 points.

Around 9.20 a.m., the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,053.95 points, traded at 33,919.33 points — down 91.43 points or 0.27 per cent from its previous close.

The BSE market breadth was bearish as 806 stocks declined as against 487 advances.

On the the National Stock Exchange, the wider Nifty50 edged lower by 47.15 points or 0.45 per cent to trade at 10,405.15 points.

On Friday, the equity indices closed in the negative territory as heavy selling pressure in banks, along with rising crude oil prices, dampened investors’ risk-taking appetite.

The NSE Nifty50 declined by 93.20 points or 0.88 per cent to close at 10,452.30 points, while the BSE Sensex closed at 34,010.76 points — down 286.71 points or 0.84 per cent.

IANS

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PNB fraud: Assocham calls for privatising PSBs

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ASSOCHAM

New Delhi, Feb 18: In light of the massive Rs 11,300 crore ($1.8 billion) scam allegedly involving jeweller Nirav Modi that has hit state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday that the government should surrender its majority control of banks, which should be allowed to function like private sector lenders.

In a regulatory filing earlier this week, PNB said it had detected the gigantic fraud in one of its Mumbai branches, putting the quantum of fraudulent transactions at $1,771.69 million. The amount is equivalent to eight times the bank’s net income of about Rs 1,320 crore ($206 million).

“The PNB’s fraudulent transactions worth Rs 11,300 crore should act as a strong trigger for the government for reducing its stake to less than 50 per cent in the banks which should then be allowed to work on the lines of private sector lenders with a full sense of accountability to their shareholders protecting interest of depositors,” Assocham said in a statement here.

“The public sector banks (PSBs), ironically, are slipping from one crisis to the other and there is a limit the government can keep bailing them out at the cost of taxpayers’ money, even if it is the principal shareholder in these lenders,” it said.

The industry body said PSB senior managements spend bulk of their time “receiving and implementing directions from the bureaucrats even for innocuous issues.”

“In the process, the core banking functions, including all important risk mitigation and management, take a back seat.”

“The problem has become more grave with banks adopting new technologies which can prove both boon and bane,” it added.

In this connection, a Special CBI Court in Mumbai on Saturday remanded to police custody till March 3 three accused persons in the case.

The three includes a retired PNB Deputy Manager Gokulnath Shetty, Single Window Operator Manoj Kharat and an authorised signatory of the prime accused Nirav Modi’s group companies.

Besides these, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has named 10 other directors and officials as accused in the scam.

“Once the government equity in the banks is reduced below 50 per cent, there would be much more autonomy along with accountability and responsibility of the senior management,” Assocham said.

“The boards should then be truly taking the policy decisions while the CEOs would run the banks with full authority, coupled with the commensurate responsibility, instead of looking towards the bureaucrats for directions,” it added.

Assocham Secretary General D.S. Rawat in a statement urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take the lead to “engage with the industry in finding ways to do clean business in the entire financial sector, be it the public sector or private sector banks or even the non-banking finance companies.”

In this regard, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramaniam has also advocated more private participation in public sector banks.

Speaking at an event in Chennai on Saturday, Subramaniam said while the government was going for recapitalisation of public sector banks, the scrutiny, monitoring and disciplined deployment must be ensured only through greater private participation in banks.

According to him, there should be less public lending to private sector and the mode to achieve that is to have higher private participation in the banking sector.

He said more privatisation could be the way forward since there was no guarantee that better governance recommendations of banks, instead of privatisation, would be implemented effectively.

IANS

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