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Rediff.com  » Business » ED raids Nirav Modi's Mumbai house; seizes valuables worth Rs 5,716 cr

ED raids Nirav Modi's Mumbai house; seizes valuables worth Rs 5,716 cr

Last updated on: February 19, 2018 20:27 IST

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday searched the Mumbai residence of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and seized assets worth Rs 5,716 crore as raids continued for the fifth day in connection with the agency’ money laundering probe in the alleged Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank fraud.

IMAGE: ED has so far seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones worth Rs 5,716 crore in the case and summoned Modi and Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, to appear before it on February 23 at its Mubai zonal office. 

Official sources said ED sleuths searched Modi’s flat in the Samudra Mahal apartments in south Mumbai's Worli area.

The central probe agency also conducted searches at 38 other locations in several cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Thane, Kolkata, Delhi, Jammu, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Surat.

It seized fresh assets worth Rs 22 crore that include precious stones, cash and gold from the premises of Modi, his relative and business partner Mehul Choksi and others.

The agency has so far seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones worth Rs 5,716 crore in the case and summoned Modi and Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, to appear before it on February 23 at its Mubai zonal office.

 

ED sources said the agency is also talking to senior PNB officials to ascertain how Letters of Understanding are issued and other bank operations done.

It also obtained information from the whistleblower in the case who had said he had raised flags against Choksi’s loan in 2013.

“We are looking at securing the proceeds of crime. The ED will probe how much illicit wealth was created by the accused in the alleged fraud,” a senior official said.

It has also sought PNB’s audit reports since 2011 from the RBI, they said.

IMAGE: A man looks through the grill as CBI team seals Punjab National Bank’s South Mumbai branch at Brady House in Mumbai on Monday. The PNB fraud case involving jeweller Nirav Modi was allegedly carried out of this branch. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI Photo

The sources said the ED was looking at collecting all financial documents -- personal and official -- of Modi, Choksi and their businesses to take the probe forward and attach properties in the coming days.

“A number of computer peripherals, hard drives and documents have been seized since the ED raids began on February 15. The seized items are being scrutinised,” another official said.

ED Director Karnal Singh also flew down to Mumbai on Monday to review the anti-money laundering investigations, which are being conducted by a special team of the agency.

The ED is also moving to attach at least two dozen immovable properties of Modi, Choksi and their concerns under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The ED and the Income Tax department have zeroed in on about 200 dummy or shell companies in India and abroad that were being used to route or receive funds as part of the alleged fraud.

It is suspected that the shell firms were being used by the accused to launder money and create benami assets in the form of land, gold and precious stones, which is now being probed by the tax department.

IMAGE: A woman looks on as CBI team seals Punjab National Bank’s South Mumbai branch at Brady House in Mumbai. Photograph:  Shashank Parade/PTI Photo

Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after it 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.

CVC steps in, meets top banks and finance ministry officials

Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary on Monday met senior officials of Punjab National Bank and the finance ministry in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore fraud case, allegedly involving billionaire Nirav Modi and others, being probed by the CBI.

The banks officials are understood to have shared with the Central Vigilance Commission details of the action taken by them to deal with the fraud, official sources said.

They also shared details of the action taken by the management against the officials found allegedly involved in it, they said.

The meeting, which started at 11 am lasted for more than two hours, the sources said.

Besides Chowdary, Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin and officials from the finance ministry and PNB attended the meeting, they said.

CBI quizzes Nirav Modi's CFO

The CBI also questioned Vipul Ambani, the Chief Financial Officer of diamantaire Nirav Modi’s company Fire Star diamond.

They said Ambani had been holding the position for over three years and is believed to have been aware of the financial transactions carried out by the company of the jeweller-businessman, who fled the country.

Ambani is understood to be a relative of the late industrialist, Dhirubhai Ambani.

The CBI had intensified its searches at the branch where the alleged fraudulent transactions took place. 

A CBI spokesperson said the branch was briefly sealed early Monday morning to prevent any “possible tampering”.

He said the seal and the notice were removed during the day.

“The PNB Branch was secured with a seal briefly during the wee hours so as to prevent any inadvertent or unauthorised opening by concerned PNB staff. Today the seal and notice at the branch premises were removed,” he said. 

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