ED to seek info from countries on Nirav Modi, Choksi’s assets

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Feb 2018 08:39:03



WIDENING its probe into the PNB fraud case, the Enforcement Directorate will soon send judicial requests to over a dozen countries for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of diamantaire Nirav Modi and owner of Gitanjali Gems Mehul Choksi.

Official sources said the agency will approach a competent court in Mumbai with a request to obtain Letters Rogatories (LRs) to be sent to about 15-17 countries where the central investigation agency has traced the footsteps of the diamond and gold jewellery businesses of the firms owned by Modi, his uncle Choksi and others associated with them.
The countries where the LRs would be sent include Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa.

Some official requests on the basis of agency-to-agency exchange will also be sent to few countries, the sources said.

The attempt of sending these judicial requests for exchange of information is aimed at obtaining the details of the overseas financial holdings of Modi and Choksi, who are accused in the Rs 11,400 crore PNB loan fraud case, their bank accounts, assets, partnerships, showrooms, trusts and other assets, they said.

These assets and their sources of income will be investigated and if necessary would be attached under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) if it is found that they have been created using tainted funds or the proceeds of crime of the alleged bank fraud, the sources said. Meanwhile, Modi, his wife Ami, and Choksi have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to appear at its zonal office in Mumbai on Monday. Sources indicated that if they skip the summons, the agency may approach a special PMLA court to get non-bailable warrants against them.

The agency has also asked about 16 other banks, apart from the Punjab National Bank, to share with it the details of loans extended and collaterals offered in the case of Modi, Choksi and their companies. It has also asked the RBI to share with it audit reports of the PNB conducted by it since 2011.

Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by the ED and other probe agencies after the fraud recently came to light, following a complaint by the PNB that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The CBI and the ED have registered two FIRs each to probe the case. Both Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them. The ED, a central probe agency under the Union Finance Ministry, is investigating if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

CBI questions PNB’s ED for second day: THE CBI has examined Punjab National Bank’s Executive Director K V Brahmaji Rao for the second day on Sunday in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore PNB scam allegedly involving jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, officials said.

Rao, who started his career in banking 35 years ago as a probationary officer in Vijaya Bank, handled the Mumbai zone, among others, in the bank where the crime was allegedly detected, they said. The officials said several other officers of the bank were being questioned by the agency as well.

They said the examination was focussed on understanding how the crime was detected by the bank and other procedural issues and their violations. They were not being treated as accused, the officials said.

It was alleged that fraudulent guarantees worth Rs 11,400 crore were issued to Modi and Choksi through 293 Letters of Undertakings. According to the website of the PNB, Rao is incharge of the integrated risk management division, credit (operations), monitoring of accounts with exposure of above Rs 50 crore, including stock audit and Portfolio Management Service (PMS), industrial rehabilitation and action taken on borrowal frauds reported from Mumbai, where the alleged fraud took place.