PNB fraud: Can't depose, says Nirav Modi; ED seizes assets

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) Diamond czar Nirav Modi, who is being investigated in India for over Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank along with his uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group, on Thursday told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) saying that he could not appear before it as his passport has been suspended.

According to the ED officials, Modi, in his email reply to the agency, said that he "cannot depose before the agency now as his passport has been temporarily suspended".

The government had on Friday temporarily suspended the passports of Modi and Choksi for four weeks on the request of the ED. It had also asked Modi and Choksi 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.

Modi and Choksi were summoned by the financial probe agency for questioning in connection with the PNB fraud case last week under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Earlier in the day, the ED officials said that it has seized nine high-end luxury cars belonging to Nirav Modi besides crores of assets. The agency seized a Rolls Royce Ghost, two Mercedes Benz GL series, a Porsche Panamera, three Hondas, a Toyota Fortuner and an Innova.

The agency also froze mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore of Nirav Modi and Rs 86.72 crore belonging to his uncle Choksi of the Gitanjali Group.

On Wednesday, the agency carried out searches at over 17 different locations across the country.

The agency's action comes in the wake of its ongoing probe against the two and many others, including directors of their companies and bank officials for the alleged bank fraud.

Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit were used to raise and rollover the amount over several years before an FIR was lodged by the bank on January 29 and February 14.

The Central Bureau of Investigation was also probing the case. Both Modi and Choksi, along with other family members, were said to have left the country in early January.

The FIR has named two former bank employees for alleged direct involvement in the fraudulent transactions.

Three companies of the Gitanjali Group were also named in the second CBI FIR for allegedly defrauding PNB of Rs 4,886 crore.

The Income Tax department officials on Thursday also attached properties worth Rs 1,200 crore of the Gitanjali Group in Hyderabad.

On Wednesday, the IT department has also attached 141 bank accounts and fixed deposits of the Nirav Modi group. The cumulative credit balance in these accounts were about Rs 145.74 crore.



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