Mumbai, February 28: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday moved to a special court to seek a non-bailable warrant against billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi in connection with the money laundering case registered after the Rs. 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case.
The move comes a day after the PNB bank on Monday revealed an additional unauthorized transaction related to the scam by billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, increasing the estimated size of the fraud by Rs 1,322 crore. The latest increase means that the total fraud now amounts to nearly Rs 12,622 crore as against the original estimated over Rs 11,400 crore.
Notably, the central probe agency moved the special court o seek a non-bailable warrant against Niarv Modi as he failed to honour the three summons issued to him to appear before them for investigation. The lawyer of Enforcement Directorate Hiten Venegaokar said that the probe agency first issued summons to Modi on February 15, to which he responded on February 16 expressing difficulty in appearance.
The second summons was issued through an email on February 17, asking him to appear on February 22. “Replying to the said summons, Nirav Modi pleaded that he is out of the country for business purposes. Modi also admitted that he has been suffering losses in reply to the second summons,” Venegaokar said.
The ED issued again the third summons on February 22, asking him to appear on February 26. However, he failed to appear, following with the agency moved a plea for a non-bailable warrant. “He has been evading appearing before the agency and directing the agency on how to conduct the investigation. This cannot be permitted,” Venegaokar concluded.
The case is now scheduled for hearing on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the ED has moved letters rogatory (LRs) to obtain information on the overseas businesses and assets of Modi in seven countries. The agency has sought assistance from countries, including Japan, France, Malasia, Rasia, China, Armania.
ED earlier issued fresh summon to Nirav Modi after he failed to appear before the probe agency in the PNB loan fraud case. The ED had also frozen bank deposits containing 30 crore rupees and shares worth 13.86 crore rupees of the group under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had also seized a huge collection of imported watches from locations linked to the billionaire diamond merchant in connection with PNB scam. ED also summoned Nirav Modi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and has been asked to join the investigation and appear before the central probe agency in Mumbai on 26th February. On the other side, Income Tax Dept has attached SEZ property of Gitanjali Group in Hyderabad.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has also started its investigation as per the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 and rules framed under Chartered accountants' apex body. ICAI taking a strict action in connection with the case has issued show-cause notices to the auditors of Punjab National Bank and Gitanjali Gems.
Billionaire Diamond Jeweller Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after a recent complaint by the PNB, that they allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of 11,400 crore rupees. After the scam was unveiled, the Enforcement Directorate registered an FIR under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Nirav Modi and his Mumbai-based firms Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds.
CBI also registered fresh FIRs against 10 directors of the Gitanjali Group of companies on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act, including Mehul Choksi, the Managing Director of Gitanjali Gems Ltd based in Mumbai's Walkeshwar. The FIR also named two former bank employees said to be directly involved in the fraudulent transactions.
CBI sealed Brady House branch of Punjab National Bank in Mumbai from where the Rs 11,378.68 Crores PNB scam was originated and arrested GM level officer Rajesh Jindal. Rajesh Jindal was a branch head at Punjab National Bank Brady House branch. Dozens of the raid are already conducted in this case.
Meanwhile, 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.
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 and registered the case on 31st January.
On February 14 this year, one of the biggest fraudulent case hit Mumbai on Wednesday where Punjab National Bank reported that it has detected fraudulent and unauthorized transactions in one of its branches in Mumbai. The cumulative fraud amounts to US $1,771.69 billion i.e. Rs 11,378.68 Crores.