Nirav Modi's lawyer says PNB termed commercial transactions as fraud

The lawyer of businessman Nirav Modi on Wednesday alleged that the Punjab National Bank (PNB) has termed commercial transactions as a fraud.

The PNB has lodged two financial fraud complaints of Rs. 11400 crore and Rs 280 crore against Nirav Modi, his family members and Mehul Choksi, owner of Gitanjali Gems.

Vijay Aggarwal, the lawyer of businessman Nirav Modi and the main accused in PNB scam, told media, "The entire matter was in knowledge of the bank (PNB). The bank took commission of crores of rupees but now it is not accepting it. It was a commercial transaction of the bank which is now being termed as a fraud."

Aggarwal refuted the reports that Nirav Modi was absconding after the case came to light and questioned that why would he run away from the country leaving behind assets worth over Rs 5,000 crore.

"He (Nirav Modi) is not absconding. He has a global business. He was already out on business purposes when this case came to light and now his passport has been revoked. His family members, some of them are foreign nationals, also stay abroad most of the time," he said.

The lawyer also said that the strategy in this case will be worked out once the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) files its charge-sheet.

He added, "The business (of Nirav Modi) has been closed, the bank accounts have been seized, and shops have been shut. At the moment things are very hazy. We are looking at the case. We will know the charges when the CBI files charge-sheet and then only some strategy can be worked out."

The lawyer also questioned the reported fraud amount of over Rs. 11000 crore.

"The CBI itself has itself maintained that at the moment the amount is Rs 280 crore, which may go up to Rs 5,000 crore. I don't know from where the media is getting the figure of Rs 11,500 crore."

Niravi Modi and Gitanjali Gems Chairman and Managing Director Mehul Choksi have been accused of cheating the PNB.

On Tuesday, the CBI arrested Vipul Ambani, the president (finance) of Nirav Modi's Fire Star Diamond.

Kavita Mankikar, executive assistant and authorised signatory of the three accused firms; Arjun Patil, senior executive, Firestar group; Kapil Khandelwal, CFO, Nakshatra group; and Niten Shahi, manager, Gitanjali were also arrested.

On Monday, three PNB officials- Bechhu Tiwari, Yashwant Joshi and Praful Sawant- were also arrested.

The CBI had earlier arrested former PNB deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty, single window manager Manoj Kharat, and Hemant Bhat, the authorised signatory of Nirav Modi's firms.

Manoj Kharat's father, Hanumant Kharat, on Monday told ANI that "the entire banking system is faulty. My son has been framed by the PNB in the Nirav Modi fraud case".

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI are probing the matter and conducting searches and raids at various locations linked with Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems.

The scam was started in 2011 and was detected in the third week of January this year, after which the PNB officials reported it to the concerned agencies.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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