An Antwerp-based firm owned by fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi has been declared bankrupt by a commercial court in the northern Belgian city last month, according to court documents accessed by The Sunday Express.
The Antwerp court on March 19 declared Modi’s Firestar Diamond BVBA, which controls three companies in Russia, Armenia and South Africa, bankrupt, suspended payments, and gave the creditors of the firm a month to file claims, according to the bankruptcy notice published in the Belgian Official Gazette on March 22. The court has set May 18 as the deadline for filing of the first official report of verification of the claims in its Solvency Central Register. It has appointed the Antwerp-based insolvency law experts Van Camp Eddy and Mertens Ilse as official liquidators.
“I am not aware of the development,” Vijay Agarwal, lawyer representing Nirav Modi, told The Sunday Express.
Firestar Diamond BVBA was set up by Nirav Modi’s father Deepak Modi in 2009. Nirav Modi’s brother Neeshal Modi is a director of the company, which leads the rough diamond sourcing and trading for the group, and distributes assorted polished productions from various manufacturing locations to both its local and international customers. Firestar Holdings Ltd, Modi’s Hong Kong corporation, has significant stake in Firestar Diamond BVBA.
According to the annual report of Firestar Diamond BVBA, the firm made a profit of close to Rs 17 crore in 2017, up 49 per cent from a year ago. The company controls the majority stake in Firestar Diamond Ltd, Russia, Firestar Diamond LLC, Armenia, and Firestar Diamond Propriety Ltd, South Africa.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by several Indian agencies for the Rs 13,400 crore fraudulent transactions routed through state-run Punjab National Bank.
On February 26, three Modi firms — Firestar Diamond Inc, Fantasy Inc, and A. Jaffe — filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, following accusations that a few other firms led by him allegedly colluded with officials of PNB to secure unauthorised Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) between 2011 and 2017. The three firms have asked the US bankruptcy court to allow an expedited sale of assets that are free of claims and encumbrances. Firestar Diamond has blamed liquidity and supply chain challenges, and listed up to $ 100 million in assets and debt.
According to the financial statement of Firestar Diamond Inc filed with the US bankruptcy court, over the last year, the firm has purchased goods worth Rs 41.67 crore from Firestar Diamond BVBA.