By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai– Fresh legal troubles are brewing in Mumbai for the fugitive diamantaire Nirav D. Modi, currently seeking bail and battling extradition proceedings in a UK Court, officials said here on Thursday.
A Special Court under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 has slapped notices to Nirav Modi and his sister Purvi Mehta — who turned approver five months ago — besides his group companies, ordering them to appear before the Special Judge V.C. Barde on June 11, in Mumbai.
Barde has also asked them to show cause why the Special Court should not attach the properties and assets of the two siblings and the other group companies under the law, in a money-laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in early 2018.
The development comes exactly three-and-half-years after Nirav Modi, several of his family members, his maternal uncle Mehul C. Choksi and others were accused of perpetrating a stunning fraud of around Rs 14,000-crore in the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
Even before PNB admitted to the fraud and lodged a formal police complaint in January 2018, it emerged that Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others had already fled the country as the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED launched their independent probes.
Besides the ‘Mama-Bhanja’ duo, Modi’s group companies like Stellar Diamonds, Firestar International Ltd, Radashir Jewelery Co. Pvt. Ltd., Firestar Trading Pvt. Ltd., Solar Exports, Diamonds R Us, Firestar Diamond International Ltd., Mac Business Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Bentley Properties Pvt. Ltd. and Nirav Modi Trust, were under the scanner of the CBI-ED sleuths and are named in the Special Court’s latest notices.
Shortly afterwards, in Feb. 2018, a Mumbai Magistrate ordered a non-bailable warrant against Modi, in June 2018, the InterPol issued a Red Corner Notice, followed by India’s request in Aug. 2018 to the UK authorities seeking his extradition back home.
It was in March 2019 that a massive furore erupted in India after Nirav Modi was found sauntering on a London street and the Indian authorities went after him with renewed vigour, resulting in his arrest that same month.
As he remains in jail, a UK Court in Feb. 2021 cleared his extradition to India to face charges of bank frauds, money-laundering, etc, even as Purvi and her husband Maiank Mehta turned approvers in the case in January 2021.
Incidentally, in the past couple of years, the ED-CBI has managed to recover small sums by auctioning off Nirav Modi’s assets like half-a-dozen luxury vehicles, designer bags, high-value wristwatches, rare paintings, artworks and other stuff, while his deluxe bungalow in Alibaug, Raigad was attached and demolished in March 2019.
After the PNB scam broke out, over the next couple of years, several other nationalised banks slowly came into the open and reveal how Modi-Choksi had duped and dumped them in various loan accounts.
Meanwhile, in early 2019 it came to light Choksi had acquired the citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda Island in the West Indies in November 2017, and is currently embroiled in a legal tangle over his citizenship and related issues. (IANS)