MEA suspends passports of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi for 4 weeks in #PNBScam
 Source : NewsBharati  Date : 16-Feb-2018

New Delhi, February 16: Taking a step forward in the Rs 11,378.68 Crores Punjab National Bank scam, the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended the passports of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems owner Mehul Choksi for four weeks on Friday.


Notably, The Ministry of External Affairs decision was based on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which filed money laundering cases against Modi and Choksi in relation to the alleged Rs 11, 400 crore PNB fraud. MEA has also asked Modi and Choksi to respond within one week and justify why their passports should not be revoked.

In a statement, MEA said, “On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the Passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has today suspended the validity of passports of Mr. Nirav Deepak Modi and Mr. Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967.”

“Mr. Nirav Deepak Modi and Mr. Mehul Chinubhai Choksi have been asked to respond within one week as to why their passports should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10 (3) (c) of the Passports Act 1967. If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation,” the statement added.


Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation approached the Interpol to locate billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his family who had left the country in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the agency. Earlier in the day, the Enforcement Directorate raided 17 premises across the country related to Jeweller Nirav Modi and Geetanjali Gems. The ED also seized jewellery worth Rs 5,100 crores, in gold, diamond and other precious stones while raiding Nirav Modi's showrooms. 
Punjab National Bank had detected a 1.77 billion dollar scam in which Nirav Modi acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking from one of its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders. PNB has suspended 10 officers in this scam and referred the matter to CBI for investigation.


However, the Government has made it clear that none will be spared and that effort is on to revoke Nirav Modi's passport. Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Government will take strict action against those found guilty in connection with Punjab National Bank fraud case.

Briefing reporters, he asserted that nobody will be spared irrespective of their status or stature, who sought to derail banking system to help Nirav Modi. Prasad said, not a single loan has been given by the NDA government during its rule, which turned into Non-Performing Asset(NPA). He said all the NPAs are related to the previous UPA rule.

Importantly, Nirav Modi and his brother Nishal Modi left the country on 1st of January this year. Nirav Modi's wife, an American citizen, left India on 6 January while Mehul Choksi left the country on 4 January. CBI received a complaint from PNB on 29th Jan 2018. CBI registered the case on 31st January and immediately issued lookout circulars.