PNB fraud: ED summons Nirav, Choksi

PNB fraud: ED summons Nirav, Choksi

PNB fraud: ED summons Nirav, Choksi

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in connection with its money laundering probe into the Rs 11,344.40 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Official sources said both Nirav and Choksi, who left India in the first week of January, have been asked to appear before its investigators within a week.

While Nirav had left India on January 1, Choksi flew out six days later.

As the ED "could not locate" the duo in person, sources said, the notices were handed over to the directors of the firms of the two businessmen.

Modi runs a jewellery brand chain under his name, while Choksi is the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.

The ED had on Thursday conducted raids at 17 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Surat and Hyderabad, where Modi and Choksi have showrooms, workshops, offices and residences.

It had seized diamonds, jewellery and gold worth Rs 5,100 crore.

The ED, which initiated a money laundering probe based on a January 31 CBI FIR, has already approached the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to revoke their passports while CBI has approached the Interpol to locate the duo.

The CBI has now enlarged the the investigation from its first FIR after PNB approached it with fresh complaints that took the scope of the scam from Rs 280 crore to Rs 11,344.40 crore.

The CBI has filed a second FIR on Friday and conducted searches in various places.

Sources said the CBI is also probing whether there was any delay in the PNB reporting the matter to the agency.

It is also looking at the gap of about two weeks in filing the fresh complaints.

The investigators are surprised at the fact that Letters of Understanding were issued regularly and violating norms since 2011 but it was not detected so far.

Also, these LoUs, which were to be issued only for 90 days, were renewed against regulations.

Sources said it appeared that Nirav's companies used to get the LoUs renewed at the end of three months when they were to repay.

They would get the LoU renewed with interest, which meant that the amount was carried forward and not paid. Sources said this was sort of round-tripping or money laundering.

Investigators are also trying to find out why one of the accused officials Gokulnath Shetty, who retired later, was not transferred out of the branch for long.

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