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NEW DELHI: In a scathing attack, the Congress on Thursday said that the Prime Minister’s Office was informed about the alleged fraud being perpetuated by billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi in July 2016, but failed to act in the matter.
“Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, was made aware of this entire fraud by one Shri Hari Prasad by way of a written complaint filed on 26th July, 2016 and acknowledged by PMO,” said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, adding that “no action was taken” and the “bank lost the money and the accused escaped.”
He also alleged that PM Modi was aware of 42 FIRs pending against the absconding.
Surjewala blamed the authorities, including the finance ministry, for “sleeping on their job.”
“Loot and escape”, he said, had become the “hallmark” of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
He claimed that the “whole system was bypassed,” and demanded to know “who is protecting Nirav Modi.” He hinted at “active complicity at the highest level.”
Earlier today, Congress president Rahul Gandhi mocked the Centre with a tweet titled “Guide to Looting India”, in which he accused Nirav Modi of wielding his alleged ‘influence’ with the PM to get away with the fraud.
Guide to Looting India by Nirav MODI 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS Use that clout to: A. Stea… https://t.co/4cKQE4y4nQ
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG)
In a press conference later in the day, the ruling BJP clarified that the billionaire was “not part of the Prime Minister’s Davos delegation.” It was responding to a tweet by Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi that showed an image of the PM together with Nirav Modi at Davos earlier this year.
“Nirav Modi was not part of the PM’s Davos delegation, he reached Davos on his own. He was part of the CII group picture. Nirav Modi did not meet or interact with the PM,” said Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Prasad demanded that the Congress “stop doing politics of photos”.
The BJP also took exception to the Congress referring to Nirav Modi as the ‘second Chhota Modi’ – the first being Lalit Modi – and accused it of being “derogatory and demeaning”.
The fraud case, which the Congress is calling “India’s biggest bank loot scam”, saw Nirav Modi, his wife, brother, and business partner Mehul Choksi being booked by the CBI on January 31, for allegedly cheating the state-run Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 280 crore.
According to the bank, the scam is worth more than Rs 11,400 crore.