Fresh trouble for Nirav and kin; passport suspended, new cases

Fresh trouble for Nirav and kin; passport suspended, new cases

Fresh trouble for Nirav and kin; passport suspended, new cases

Fresh trouble loomed large for billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his kin as the government on Friday suspended his and uncle Mehul Choksi's passports while the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate filed new cases in connection with the $1.7 billion (around Rs 11,344.40 crore) bank fraud.

The CBI approached the Interpol to locate Nirav, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and Choksi, who left the country in the first week of January much before the case was registered, while both the agencies conducted searches and questioned four Punjab National Bank officers.

The ED on its part seized another tranche of diamonds and gold worth Rs 549 crore at book value, taking the total seizure to Rs 5,649 crore and summoned both Nirav and Choksi to appear before it within a week. Searches were conducted in 35 new locations covering 11 states.

The political slugfest also continued for another day with the ruling BJP dubbing it a "UPA-era scam" while the Congress and other opposition parties continued to target Narendra Modi-led government for letting Nirav and his kin leaving the country.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) suspended the validity of the passport of Nirav and Choksi on the advice of the ED to make it impossible for them to travel further from whichever country or countries they are now staying. The investigators are expecting that the Interpol would be soon intimating them about their whereabouts.

After registering a fresh case against Choksi and his companies, the CBI conducted searches in 26 locations in six cities spread across five states - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The agency now has 293 Letters of Understanding (LOUs) and 224 Letters of Credit (LC) issued to Nirav and others by the Punjab National Bank with its possession for further investigation.

The fresh FIR claimed that Choksi's companies - Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand Ltd -- have cheated the bank of Rs 4,886.72 crore, for which the Letters of Understanding where issued this fiscal.

Sources said it is investigating how Nirav's companies used to get the LoUs renewed at the end of the stipulated three months when they were to repay. The LoUs were renewed with interest - the existing amount was carried forward and not paid. Sources said this was sort of round-tripping or money laundering.

Based on the fresh CBI FIR, the ED also registered a money laundering case against Choksi. The ED has also directed Nirav's office not to do any transaction - sale or purchase - in showrooms in New York, London, Macau and Beijing.