PNB scam: ED raids Nirav Modi, Gitanjali Gems, seizes Rs 51 bn in jewellery

A Nirav Modi jewellery showroom in New Delhi’s Defence Colony area on Thursday. Photo: PTI
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday conducted searches in 17 properties linked to billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle and business partner Mehul Chinubhai Choksi’s firm Gitanjali Gems across India in a case of fraud, and seized diamond, gold, and jewellery worth 
Rs 51 billion.

Agency sleuths searched Modi’s residence in Kurla (Mumbai), jewellery boutique in the Kala Ghoda area (Mumbai), three company offices in Bandra and Lower Parel (Mumbai), three premises in Surat, and his showrooms in Chanakyapuri and Defence Colony (New Delhi).

ED officials said five properties belonging to Modi and the other accused were sealed in Mumbai by the agency. It was now planning to move the Ministry of External Affairs with a plea to revoke his passport, they said.

The search operation came after the agency filed a Rs 2.8-billion money laundering case against Modi; his wife, Ami; brother Nishal; and Choksi on Wednesday, following a complaint by Punjab National Bank (PNB). 

Nishal, a Belgian citizen, left the country on January 1, while Ami, a US citizen, and Choksi, the Indian promoter of the Gitanjali jewellery chain, left on January 6, officials said. 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) issued a lookout circular against all the four after registering the first FIR (first information report) against them, they said.

Further, the ED summoned Modi, Choksi, and two other relatives named in the FIR filed by the CBI on the matter.

They were given a week to appear before the agency for questioning under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Meanwhile, the ED and the income-tax department heads met late in the evening on Thursday and laid out the action plan against all the parties involved in the matter.

During the search operation, the ED found funds were withdrawn from banks in Hong Kong. The probe agency is planning to approach the local authorities to track the money trail there, said an ED source.

“Some PNB officials are also under the ED scanner and might be questioned,” the source added.

Sources said the agency would probe whether the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and the proceeds of crime were used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

The ED filed the enforcement case information report based on the CBI FIR registered last month. 

Modi (46), along with his wife, brother, and Choksi, was booked by the CBI on January 31 for allegedly cheating PNB.

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

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel