File photo of Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems
Documents accessed by Business Standard
show that some of the offshore companies that were paid millions of dollars by Indian banks at the behest of Mehul Choksi and his business partner Nirav Modi, share many things in common. The Enforcement Directorate also suspects that Choksi and Modi used various shell companies to siphon off millions in the form of bank loans. Business Standard
is publishing details of these companies and the individuals behind it, along with the glaring similarities in their physical addresses and the use of the same business reference in Hong Kong. Individuals and entities have been sent a facsimile, but no responses have been received till the time of publication. Their responses will be published as and when received.
Two Hong Kong-based subsidiaries of Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems share office space with a company that received millions of dollars in less than a week in February from Hong Kong-based Indian banks on dubious LoUs issued by Punjab National Bank’s staff. Documents show that both the two subsidiaries in question -- Aston Luxury Group Limited and Crown Aim Limited – operate out of the fifth floor of the Hung Hom Commercial Centre in Hong Kong’s Kowloon area. This is the same building that houses a company called Sunshine Gems, mentioned in a complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as having received close to $28 million along with others in less than a week on the basis of dubious LoUs from the Hong Kong based branches of Allahabad Bank and Axis Bank. Sunshine Gems is located on the seventh floor of the same commercial centre that houses the two Choksi companies. Business Standard
had reported yesterday that Sunshine Gems is owned by a man named Mohandas Ashishkumar Lad, who resides in the Keshav Nagar locality of Surat. Mohanbhai Lad is the sole owner of Sunshine Gems with a holding of eight million shares. Incorporated in 2013, Sunshine Gems is one of the youngest companies named in the complaint filed with the Central Bureau of Investigation.
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Documents reveal that Choksi’s two companies, Aston Luxury and Crown Aim, moved to the same building in Kowloon area only after Sunshine Gems was incorporated. Till early 2014, Aston Luxury was operating out of another building called Guardforce Centre in the same locality of Kowloon. Guardforce Centre was less than a kilometre away from the current coordinates of Choksi’s companies and Sunshine Gems. Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems was the sole owner of Aston Luxury holding over 29 million shares in the company. In addition to Choksi, another man named Bhikhurao Nareshkumar Jadhav is a director of both Aston Luxury and Crown Aim. Jadhav is a Hong Kong resident holding a local identity card and stays at an apartment at Austin Mansion in Kowloon.
What is further intriguing is that both these companies had the same company secretary and business presenter as that of two companies named in the CBI first information report (FIR), namely Sunshine Gems and Aura Gems. Both these companies allegedly received close to $60 million in a span of less than a week from Hong Kong-based Indian banks on the basis of fraudulent LoUs issued by Punjab National Bank officials suspected to be Nirav Modi’s cabals. Documents show that Sunshine Gems availed the services of a company secretary and presenter named CBest Solutions for doing all its regulatory filings and compliance paperwork under Hong Kong’s corporate laws. CBest Solutions was also employed by Sunshine Gems for the same purpose. Meanwhile Crown Aim bought the services of a company called Fiscal Consultants to do its compliance paperwork. Fiscal Consultants was also hired by Aura Gems for the same job.
The Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation suspect that over 200 shell companies, including many in Hong Kong, were used by Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi to siphon off millions of dollars in bank loans obtained through fraudulent means.