New Delhi: State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) recovered Rs 20,000 crore of bad loans during the financial year ended March 2019, almost double the recovery amount in the preceding year, its Chairman Sunil Mehta has said. The bank suffered losses allegedly after jewellers Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and some bank employees collided to defraud PNB of about Rs 1,000 crore. The scam was unearthed in February 2018. In the bank’s annual report, Mehta said the financial year 2018-19 started off on a tepid note. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”With the biggest financial incident in terms of severity and enormity, the bank had a huge task before it to overcome the crisis and turnaround,” he added. In spite of challenges, he said the bank was able to narrow its net loss to Rs 9,975 crore against the loss of Rs 12,283 crore during 2017-18, and high level of net non-performing assets (NPAs) saw a sequential reduction from quarter-to-quarter. The net NPA reduced from Rs 48,684 crore in March 2018 to Rs 30,038 crore. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”The recovery momentum has continued with gross recovery of more than Rs 20,000 crore up to March 2019 as compared to recovery of Rs 9,666 crore during March 2018,” Mehta said. The annual report further said that despite the challenging circumstances, the bank has added over Rs 1 lakh crore to the domestic business to reach Rs 11.45 lakh crore as at March 2019 with year-on-year growth of 11.1 per cent, “reflecting the unstinted faith of our customers”. The bank’s gross domestic advances grew 14.1 per cent y-o-y to reach Rs 4.91 lakh crore. It also took initiative in identifying wilful defaulters and notices were issued to various borrowers who were found to have committed an act of wilful default. As a result, as on March 31, 2019, 1,142 borrowers were declared as wilful defaulters, according to the annual report.