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India authorities widen probe into Punjab National Bank fraud, make arrests

India's authorities widened an ongoing probe into the 114 billion-rupee fraud case at Punjab National Bank, questioning 10 more officials and arresting a general manager of the bank, Mint reported Feb. 21.

The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Rajesh Jindal, who was branch head at the bank's Brady House branch in Mumbai from August 2009 to May 2011. Officials at the Brady House branch issued letters of undertakings to Nirav Modi group firms through SWIFT for years without obtaining the necessary approvals. The bank said the fraud started in 2011.

Jindal currently serves as general manager at the bank's head office in New Delhi. The agency has arrested five bank officials so far, including a chief manager in charge of the foreign exchange department at the Brady House branch and an export officer.

The CBI also confirmed that it is questioning 10 more officials of Punjab National Bank, including the bank's executive directors but did not disclose their names.

Meanwhile, Nirav Modi, the jeweler in the middle of the investigation, denied allegations he was involved in the loan fraud, Reuters reported Feb. 20.

Vijay Aggarwal, a lawyer for Modi, said all of his client's transactions with the bank were documented, and allegations made by the CBI that Modi conspired with several bank employees were completely wrong.

As of Feb. 20, US$1 was equivalent to 64.91 Indian rupees.