Nirav Modi case: 4 senior RBI officials quizzed over 20:80 gold import scheme
New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday questioned four senior RBI officials in connection with relaxing of gold import rules in 2014 when Congress leader P Chidambaram was the finance minister in the UPA government allegedly to the benefit of private traders.
The central investigation agency, which is probing the alleged Rs 13,000-crore PNB fraud involving billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, questioned three Chief General Managers and one General Manager of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), officials said.
The four officials were asked questions related to the UPA government's '20:80' gold import scheme, which was cleared by Chidambaram on May 13, 2014, barely three days before the counting of votes of the general election, they said.
The BJP-led NDA came to power at the Centre, defeating the UPA in the 2014 election.
The CBI investigation into the matter came four weeks after the NDA government had issued a statement saying it would act against people who relaxed gold import rules for private trading houses during the previous dispensation.
In a statement, the government had said the UPA government's '20:80 scheme' resulted in a windfall of Rs 4,500 crore to 13 trading houses in six months.
The BJP had last month accused Chidambaram of aiding jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the main accused in the Rs 12,600-crore fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB), through the 20:80 gold import scheme.
Chidambarm had in last few days of the UPA government modified the gold import scheme to allow private trading houses to import gold on condition that they would export 20 per cent of it. Previously only state-owned companies MMTC and STC were allowed to import gold.
The NDA government had said it had taken the "bold" step to scrap the scheme soon after coming to power, but it didn't name jewellers who might have benefited.
It said the scheme had increased gold shipments to the country and put pressure on current account deficit in 2012-13 resulting in placing of restrictions on imports, including by way of higher customs duty.
"However, from May 21, 2014, the Premier Trading Houses and Star Trading Houses were also allowed to import gold under 20:80 scheme," the statement said, referring to Chidambaram's decision to allow private traders to import.