Money & Banking

Passports of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi suspended

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on February 16, 2018 Published on February 16, 2018

Enforcement Directorate team raids the Viviana Mall after a complaint filed by Punjab National Bank, in Thane on Friday.   -  PTI

CBI files FIR against Choksi; conducts raids at Gitanjali group of companies

Acting on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the government has temporarily suspended the passports of jewellers and businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi in connection with the ₹11,300-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.

“On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has today suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

The MEA also said Modi and his partner Choksi have been asked to respond within one week as to why their passports should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act, 1967.

“If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation,” said the statement.

According to Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, MEA, the Ministry will take further actions based on what advice it receives from the investigative agencies. He also said that the Ministry is not aware of Modi’s whereabouts at present.

Fresh FIR

Meanwhile the CBI on Friday registered an FIR against Choksi and his Gitanjali Group of companies based on a complaint by PNB on February 13. The FIR, according to sources, has named three of the companies owned by Choksi — Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra Brand.

Searches were carried out at Gitanjali factories in 20 locations across six cities and five States. Searches were also made at factories belonging to Choksy and at the offices and residences of other directors of the accused companies and other group entities, sources added.

Searches were being conducted in Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), Gujarat (Surat), Rajasthan (Jaipur), Telangana (Hyderabad) and Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore).

The FIR mentions the alleged loss to PNB at ₹4,886.72 crore.

The CBI, sources said, accused PNB officials (Shetty and Karat) in conspiracy with private persons, of sending unauthorised LoUs and foreign letters of credit to overseas branches of Indian banks for release of funds to the accused companies’ suppliers or to clear liabilities of the accused companies.

The CBI also lodged a fresh FIR involving 143 LoUs and 224 foreign letters of credit, which is apart from the earlier 150 LoUs relating to the FIR dated January 31.

Following the gradual unearthing of the scam, business chambers also reacted strongly to the developments and condemned the illegal business practises.

“Fraudsters should be expeditiously punished in accordance with the law and FICCI supports the need for swift and strict action against those companies which have allegedly defrauded the banks,” said Rashesh Shah, President, FICCI.

The chamber also recommended that the root cause of such scams should be identified and thoroughly investigated so that the gaps can be plugged preventing repetition of such corporate scams.

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Published on February 16, 2018
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