Arun Jaitley breaks silence on PNB scam, but contradicts Nirmala Sitharaman

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday broke his silence on the Rs 11,400 crore worth PNB scam, but appeared to have sharply contradicted his cabinet colleagues by holding auditors and CA community responsible for the financial fraud.

Arun Jaitley

He said that auditors needed to look inwards as to why they were unable to detect irregularities in PNB fraud case.“Supervisory agencies need to assess as to what new system has to be put in place to detect irregularities,” Jaitley said.

Speaking at the event organised by Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, Jaitley said, “When authority is given to the managements, then you are expected to utilise authority effectively and in the right manner and therefore question for management is if they were found lacking, on the face of it seems they were.

“The third important questions is; which is addressed to our friends in the profession. What were auditors doing? If both internal and external auditors have looked other way and failed to detect, then I am sure the CA profession of the Chartered Accountant itself and those who control the discipline itself must start introspecting. Also, there’s an additional challenge that supervisory agencies also must introspect what are the additional mechanisms they have to put in place.”

Jaitley’s comments came just days after several BJP leaders including some cabinet colleagues of the finance minister blamed the Congress for the banking scam running in thousands of crores of rupees.

One of them was Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharamn, who said, “The original sin took place during the Congress regime. It multiplied, it took traction under the Congress regime. We are not conspiring to help scamsters (sic) flee the country, but the BJP government is catching them instead.”

This had prompted Congress President Rahul Gandhi to attack the Centre’s Narendra Modi government. Mocking the government, Gandhi had said that every other minister from the government spoke but Jaitley and PM Modi was silent on the issue.

He had said, “Social Justice Minister came (to explain), Defence Minister came, but neither the prime minister nor the finance minister, who are directly responsible, has uttered a single word on this.”

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