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PNB fraud: Assets of Rs 43 cr of Nirav Modi seized

New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 23:  India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday said it had frozen diamantaire Nirav Modi’s bank account and shares worth Rs 43 crore even as the CBI raided his Mumbai-based Kamala Mills firm and seized documents regarding the Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank fraud probe.

Nirav’s bank account had Rs 30 crore, while the shares were valued at Rs 13.86 crore, the ED said.

A senior Income Tax Department official said on Friday that as of date, 144 bank accounts and fixed deposits of Gitanjali Group owned by Mehul Choksi — with a total credit balance of Rs 20.26 crore — have been attached.

The ED officials also seized a large collection of imported watches from several locations connected to the diamond czar during the searches in the last few days.

A total of 176 steel almirahs, 158 boxes and 60 other containers linked to Nirav Modi have also been seized over the last week by the ED officials.

On Thursday, the agency seized bank deposits, shares and luxury cars worth over Rs 100 crore.

The agency has frozen mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore of Nirav Modi and Rs 86.72 crore of his uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which initiated the probe in the scam, on Friday raided Nirav Modi’s Kamala Mills firm and seized some documents.

The CBI investigators also called and questioned two General Managers and Deputy General Managers of the Mumbai-based PNB’s Brady House branch– the only branch involved in the criminality.

These PNB employees were questioned for the first time in connection with the fraud along with some other employees of the government-owned bank and a few employees of Nirav Modi and Choksi.

CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said a dedicated CBI team is now in the process of wrapping up questioning part by completing documentation of statements already recorded by the arrested persons and those quizzed so far.

CBI investigators are taking help of computer and banking experts in the case and also focusing on the alleged criminality of auditors.

Both the central agencies had conducted multiple raids at the residential and office premises and showrooms of the accused traders ever since the CBI filed two FIRs on February 14-15 against Nirav Modi and the Gitanjali group of firms respectively.

The CBI filed the first FIR against Diamond R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamond whose partners have been named as Nirav Modi, his brother Nishal, uncle Mehul Choksi and wife Ami — who left the country earlier in early January. The FIR mentions fraud of around Rs 6,400 crore.

The second FIR filed on February 15 for Rs 4,886.72 crore fraud against the Gitanjali group headed by Choksi.

Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit were used to raise and rollover the amount over several years before the fraud came to light following PNB’s complaint.

(Agencies)

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