New Delhi: Investigative agencies on Friday continued their crackdown against jewellery designer Nirav Modi and Gitanjali group managing director Mehul Choksi with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filing a fresh FIR against Choksi based on a complaint by Punjab National Bank to the agency on 13 February.
“CBI has registered an FIR against Gitanjali group of companies of Mehul Choksi based on a complaint of PNB dated 13 February, 2018. In this case, the alleged loss to PNB is estimated at Rs4,886.72 crore (which is part of the total Rs11,400 crore fraud amount). Three companies of Choksi named in the FIR are — Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand Ltd. The fresh FIR involves 143 Letters of Understanding (LoU) and 224 foreign letters of credit, which are separate from the earlier 150 LoUs mentioned in the FIR filed on 31 January," said a senior CBI official, requesting anonymity.
While the CBI conducted searches against Choksi’s Gitanjali group across 20 locations in Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), Gujarat (Surat), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Telangana (Hyderabad) and Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore), the agency also disclosed details of the involvement of PNB officials in the latest FIR.
“Accused PNB officials (Gokulnath Shetty and Manoj Kharat) in conspiracy with private persons sent unauthorised LoUs and foreign letters of credit to overseas branches of Indian banks for release of funds to accused companies’ suppliers or to clear liabilities of accused companies," the official cited above added.
Late Thursday night, the CBI approached Interpol to issue a diffusion notice against Nirav Modi, his wife Ami Nirav Modi, brother Nishal Modi as well as Choksi – all four of whom had left India in the first week of January.
A diffusion notice is a request for the arrest or location of an individual or additional information in relation to a police investigation.
On 3 and 4 February, the CBI had also searched 21 places in connection with Modi and Choksi, following which it had seized Modi’s wife’s house in Mumbai’s Worli. A lookout circular was then issued by the CBI against Nirav Modi on 4 February.
The CBI’s searches and the FIR came a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches across 17 premises belonging to Nirav Modi and the Gitanjali group.
Following the searches across showrooms, workshops, offices and residences of Modi and Choksi, the agency seized diamonds, jewellery and gold worth Rs5,100 crore.
Senior officials familiar with the developments stated that the ED on Friday issued summons seeking Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s presence in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs11,400 crore fraud, asking them to depose within a week in connection with the case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).