India's Union Bank says has $45 million direct exposure to Nirav Modi, Gitanjali firms

FILE PHOTO: Indian jeweller Nirav Modi poses during the launch of his store in Mumbai, India, March 14, 2015. Fotocorp/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Union Bank of India UNBK.NS has direct credit exposure of about 1.2 billion rupees ($18.4 million) to companies controlled by jeweler Nirav Modi, and another 1.75 billion rupees ($26.9 million) to Gitanjali group of companies, its chief executive told Reuters on Friday.

Companies belonging to Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who heads the Gitanjali group, have been accused by Punjab National Bank PNBK.NS of defrauding the bank of over $2 billion. The bank alleges firms controlled by the duo colluded with rogue PNB staff to secure fraudulent guarantees that were used to raise credit from overseas branches of Indian banks.

Both Modi and Choksi have denied wrongdoing, and so have two key accused PNB employees in the case, which has so far led to 19 people being arrested.

The latest Union Bank figures are separate from the $300 million exposure it had previously reported on account of the fraudulent PNB guarantees, said Rajkiran Rai, Chief Executive of state-run Union Bank.

This week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a new complaint against jeweler Modi alleging that companies he controlled had misused even legitimate loans and guarantees.

Lenders including Union Bank have recalled loans to Modi’s and Choksi’s firms after the news of the fraud, according to the authorities.

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Euan Rocha & Shri Navaratnam