With the United Kingdom confirming that Nirav Modi is on its soil, CBI officials said the agency has moved Interpol to issue Red Corner Notices against the absconding diamantaire and his uncle Mehul Choksi who are accused in the Rs 13,500-crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The RCNs, officials said, will help track Nirav and Choksi and return them to India through official channels to face trial in the case. The CBI recently filed chargesheets in the bank scam case.
Nirav’s presence in the UK was confirmed by members of the British delegation led by Minister of State for Countering Extremism, Baroness Williams, who held deliberations with MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi Monday.
Williams assured Rijiju full cooperation in the Indian government’s efforts to extradite Nirav, liquor baron Vijay Mallya and others in the UK. “I had a very useful meeting with UK Minister Baroness Williams. We discussed about India-UK joint efforts to deal with terrorism and extremism. We also agreed to cooperate in the matters of extradition and sharing of information,” Rijiju said after the hour-long meeting.
Letters Rogatory (LRs) in the cases lodged against Nirav by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the CBI and the Income Tax Department were sent to the UK Central Authority (UKCA) on March 19, April 14 and April 15 respectively.
The UKCA has forwarded these LRs to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for execution and conveyed that action would be taken on implementation of the Enforcement Directorate LR. The ED and SFO have started discussing the way forward, officials said.
Nirav, his wife Ami (a US citizen), brother Nishal (a Belgian national) and uncle Choksi, promoter of the Gitanjali Group, fled the country before the Punjab National Bank complained against their companies, saying it had been cheated through fraudulent issue of Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs).
As a first step, the CBI issued a diffusion notice with the Interpol to track Modi and Choksi after booking them in the case. The agency, sources said, got only a diffusion notice issued since getting an RCN without a chargesheet would have been difficult.
In its chargesheets filed last month, the CBI alleged that Modi, through his companies, siphoned funds to the tune of Rs 6,498.20 crore using fraudulent LoUs issued from PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai. Choksi swindled Rs 7,080.86 crore, making it possibly the biggest banking scam in the country, it alleged.
An additional loan default of over Rs 5,000 crore by Choksi’s companies is also a matter of probe under the CBI. It is alleged that Modi and Choksi, through their companies, availed credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using fraudulent guarantees of the PNB given through LoUs and letters of credit which were not repaid, bringing the liability on the state-run bank, the officials said.