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ED seizes Rs 51-bn assets of Nirav Modi, asks MEA to revoke his passport

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 15 Feb 18 | 08:40 PM

The Enforcement Directorate team at Nirav Modi showroom at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)

The Enforcement Directorate conducted searches in several properties linked to billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat today, and seized diamond, jewellery and gold worth Rs 51 billion, officials said.

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The raids came after the agency filed a Rs 2.8-billion money laundering case against Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and business partner Mehul Choksi yesterday, following a complaint by Punjab National Bank.

ED officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five properties belonging to Modi and the other accused in Mumbai were sealed by the agency. ED also wrote to external affairs ministry to revoke passports of Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi.

A view of Samudra Mahal Building which houses the residence of Nirav Modi | PTI Photo by Mitesh Bhuvad

Agency sleuths swooped down on at least 10 premises linked to the case early this morning. They searched Modi's residence in Kurla, jewellery boutique in Kala Ghoda area, three company offices in Bandra and Lower Parel in Mumbai, three premises in Surat in Gujarat and Modi's showrooms in Chanakyapuri and Defence Colony in Delhi.

Diamond, jewellery and gold worth Rs 51 billion have been seized during the searches, the officials said.

The ED filed the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after going through a CBI FIR registered early this month.

It is understood that the ED also went through the PNB complaint that was made out against Modi and others.

The agency, they said, would probe if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and these proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

Modi (46), a regular feature on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, was booked by the CBI, along with wife, brother and business partner Choksi on January 31, for allegedly cheating the state-run Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 2.8 billion.

A Nirav Modi jewellery showroom at Defence Colony area of New Delhi (Photo: PTI)

The bank has sent two more complaints to the CBI on Tuesday, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 114 billion.

The ED has enllarged its probe to look into the charge of fraud of Rs 114 billion, agency officials said.

The CBI also raided the residences of Modi, his brother, wife and Choksi, all partners of Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds and two bank officials -- Gokulnath Shetty (now retired) and Manoj Kharat, who were also named in the FIR as accused.

"The public servants committed abuse of official position to cause pecuniary advantage to Diamond R US, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and a wrongful loss of Rs 2.8 billion to Punjab National Bank during 2017," the CBI FIR has alleged.

Nirav Modi's Firestar Diamond company office, which was raided by the ED officials in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, in Surat (Photo: PTI)

The bank had also alleged in the complaint that a fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertakings (LOU) took place on January 16, 2018 for and on behalf of the accused firms, which approached the bank and presented a set of import documents to the branch with a request to allow buyers credit for making payment to overseas suppliers.

The diamantaire is an India citizen but his brother Nishal and wife Ami are not Indian nationals.

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