The US government on Friday said it cannot confirm the presence of billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi in the country. Modi is accused of allegedly defaulting Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore. A US state department official, however, said they are aware of the media reports on Modi absconding to New York, reported news agency PTI.
“We are aware of recent media reports that Nirav Modi is in the United States but cannot confirm them,” the spokesperson said in a quote to PTI.
Asked if the department is providing any assistance to the Indian government in tracing Modi, the spokesperson added, “We refer you to the Department of Justice for questions on legal assistance to the Indian authorities in relation to their investigation of Mr. Modi.”
Modi and his maternal uncle and promoter the Gitanjali Groups Mehul Choksi are being investigated by multiple Indian agencies following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
Modi left India a week before PNB detected the fraud. The first complaint against Nirav Modi was lodged by the CBI at the end of January, by which time Modi had already left the country. Choksi reportedly left the country in early January.
The accused allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from PNB’s Brady House branch in Fort area in Mumbai to acquire overseas credit from other lenders. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have registered two FIRs each in this case.
Look Out Circulars (LoC), also known as a blue corner notices, have been issued against Modi and Choksi to keep a tab on their entry at all land, air and sea ports in India.
(With Inputs with PTI)