CBI probing PNB scam seeks info on gold import scheme from RBI officials

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday questioned four senior officials of the Reserve Bank of India, and a former deputy governor, H R Khan, in connection with a gold import scheme, as part of inquiries into the $2-billion fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The CBI on Thursday questioned four top RBI officials — three chief general managers and a general manager — in connection with the fraud at state-run PNB, but the source did not elaborate on the line of questioning.
On Friday, CBI officials also questioned H R Khan, a former senior official of the central bank in connection with the PNB scam probe.
Reports quoting sources familiar with the developments said CBI had sought background information from the former senior RBI official on the `80:20 scheme’ and that it was “not a grilling exercise”.
The 80:20 rule, introduced by the RBI and the previous government in 2013, mandated that importers export at least 20 per cent of the gold that they bring into the country.
The restrictions, aimed at reining in a spiraling current account deficit, were later eased as the deficit narrowed and the scarcity of gold hit India’s jewellery exports.
While Khan, who retired from his post at the RBI in 2016, did not make any statement, reports quoting sources said the CBI was inquiring into the background of the 80:20 scheme - why it was relaxed and on what basis trading houses were chosen to import gold.
While it is not clear if there is any connection between the 80:20 scheme and the PNB fraud, a government source admitted that Khan has been questioned, although he declined to give any further details.
This fraud on PNB was allegedly perpetrated by two jeweller groups that raised loans from overseas branches of Indian banks using nearly $2 billion of fraudulent guarantees issued by some rogue PNB staffers over a period of years.
CBI has also questioned officials of PNB and other bank, and made at least 20 arrests in the case that came to light in early February.