The ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed two separate applications before a special court in Mumbai seeking confiscation of attached assets of diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.
The two along with others have been named as absconding accused by the ED for the alleged fraud in Punjab National Bank.
The application was moved under section 4 read with 12 of the Ordinance on Wednesday before the special court designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Under these provisions of the Ordinance, a director or any other officer, not below the rank of Deputy Director, on the basis of the material in his or her possession has reason to believe that an individual is a fugitive economic offender, can then file an application before the special court.
Special Judge MS Azmi asked the ED officials present in court on Wednesday to submit all relevant documents including annexures with application. As per the provisions, the court can now declare the individual as a fugitive economic offender, if it is satisfied with the reasons put forth in the plea.
Following such an order, the central government can proceed with confiscating Modi and Choksi’s properties, including the proceeds of crime in India or abroad, whether or not it is owned by them and any other property or benami property owned by them. This will include movable and immovable properties identified by the ED in India, the UK and UAE. The ED claims to have conducted more than 260 searches in which seizures were done of jewellery, watches, precious-semi-precious stones belonging to Choksi, Modi and companies controlled by them. The ED has given a list of all such properties.
If the court allows the ED to confiscate the assets, the process can begin even before the trial against them begins, as per the Ordinance. Last month, the ED has similarly sought to declare Vijay Mallya a ‘fugitive economic offender’, the first such plea under the Ordinance.