NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has begun to tighten the noose around fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi in the ₹14,356 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, drawing on powers it has under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
ED on Tuesday attached properties worth ₹147.72 crore owned by Modi and his companies.
The probe agency and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are investigating Modi and his uncle, Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi, who are the prime accused in the scam.
“ED attached movable and immovable properties in Mumbai and Surat, worth ₹147.72 crore consisting of eight cars, plant and machinery, consignments of jewellery, paintings and properties owned by Nirav Modi and his group companies in the bank fraud case," the ED said on Tuesday.
The properties were attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED is probing Modi’s firms Firestar Diamond International Pvt. Ltd, Firestar International Pvt. Ltd, Radheshir Jewelry Co. Pvt. Ltd, and Rhythm House Pvt. Ltd.
A significant amount of allegedly illegal proceeds from Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds, and Diamond R Us, firms connected to Modi, were diverted to him and his relatives, according to people familiar with the development.
In January, Modi had claimed that PNB gave a “colour of criminality" to “usual civil banking transactions" to camouflage its failures in connection with the alleged scam.
In October 2018, the ED had attached assets worth ₹637 crore belonging to Modi and his family, including two apartments in New York.
The agency said it has issued as many as five provisional orders under PMLA for attachment of assets in London, New York, bank balances in Singapore and other countries, a flat in Mumbai, and diamond studded jewellery that was shipped to India from Singapore.
In June 2018, ED moved a PMLA court in Mumbai, seeking Modi’s extradition from the UK, Belgium, and other countries, as his location had not been confirmed.