Diamond Fugitives

File photo of Gitanjali Gems Managing Director Mehul Choksi. The Enforcement Directorate has sought a court order to declare Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fugitives. (IANS photo)

MUMBAI — The Enforcement Directorate July 11 approached a special court here seeking its order to declare diamond merchants Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi – both accused in an over Rs. 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case – as fugitives because they fled from India a month before they were named in the case.

The Enforcement Directorate filed two separate applications requesting the designated court to issue notices to Nirav Modi and Choksi under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018 to declare them fugitives, an ED statement said.

The agency also requested the court to issue an order to confiscate the movable and immovable properties of the two accused, which are believed to be the proceeds of crime. It also urged the court to permit it to confiscate other properties of Nirav Modi and Choksi, which directly and indirectly belong to them and have been identified by agency officials in India, Britain and the United Arab Emirates. 

The ED has been probing two cases of money laundering against Nirav Modi, Choksi and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on the basis of a First Information Report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the prime investigating agency in the case. 

Investigations have revealed that Nirav Modi and Choksi have committed the offense of cheating the Mumbai-based Brady House branch of PNB in connivance of certain bank officials in fraudulently obtaining the Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit issued without following prescribed procedure and have caused wrongful loss to the bank. 

The accused persons have further siphoned off the proceeds of the crime so generated through the multiple dummy entities in India and abroad, said the statement. 

"During the course of investigation, more than 260 searches had been conducted all across India leading to the seizure of gold, diamond, platinum, silver, precious, semi-precious stones, jewelry and watches belonging to Nirav Modi and Choksi and the companies controlled by them. Further, bank accounts and shares belonging to Nirav Modi and Choksi and their controlled companies were also frozen by the ED. 

"Luxury cars and paintings of the two fugitives have also been seized by the ED," it said. 

Further, attachment orders of movable and immovable properties were also issued against the two fugitives and their companies, said the statement. 

All the movable and immovable properties seized, frozen or attached by the ED are the part of the list of properties submitted to the special PMLA court for the order of confiscation under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, it said. 

In these cases, the ED had May 24 and May 26 filed prosecution complaints or charge sheets under the PMLA against Nirav Modi and Choksi. The court has taken cognizance of the charge sheets and issued non-bailable warrant against Nirav Modi and Choksi. On the request of the ED and the CBI, Interpol has also issued a Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi. 

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