Mumbai, Feb 18, 2018: Gokulnath Shetty, the main accused in the Rs 114-billion Punjab National Bank fraud case, retired in May 2017, after about 36 years of service.
He took only one promotion in his career, but stayed in the Fort, Mumbai, branch for seven years till his retirement. The last letter of undertaking (LoU) he helped pass for Nirav Modi was in March of that year.
A native Kannada speaker, Shetty grew up in Mangalore, but came to Mumbai for studies. His Facebook photo is that of his younger self, but the person arrested on Saturday was grey-haired. He has a squint in his left eye.
He was not transferred, as getting a treasury or foreign exchange specialist in PSU banks is a tall task. Among the groups he is part of in Facebook is “Bankers Disciplinary Action Cases".
The social media profile also suggested that Shetty had a taste for prestigious real estate projects as an investor. While he lived at the fairly up market Rustomjee Ozone complex in west Mumbai’s Malad, he had investments in at least one flat at Palava, Dombivli, near Navi Mumbai.
Shetty’s co-accused is Manoj Kharat, a clerk working at the branch. Unlike Shetty, Kharat was a newcomer, having joined the bank only in 2014.
These two were accused of tampering with the core banking system of the PNB to raise fraudulent guarantees for companies owned by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
At the branch, his old colleagues were not in a mood to talk about Shetty at all. The branch sits alongside other bank branches of State Bank of India and Dena Bank in the vicinity.
Within the branch, it seemed like business as usual, as there was barely any hustle and bustle. It was the third Saturday of the month and the branch remained open, notwithstanding a small political protest outside the branch.
The branch is fairly small, with the general manager’s cabin directly opposite the front entrance. This begs the question as to how a fraud of this magnitude could take place in such close quarters.
Despite repeated efforts, the general manager of the branch refused to comment on either the LoU fraud or on the work environment. But with the rising arrests in the frauds, it is evident that a whole lot of people were involved, and Shetty could be a small cog in a giant wheel.
Courtesy: Business Standard