Absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, a key accused in the Rs 13,600 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, was declared as a fugitive economic offender Thursday by a Mumbai court. He is the second person, after Vijay Mallya, to be charged under the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, that was passed by Parliament last year.
In July 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed an application under the new anti-fraud law to declare Modi a fugitive economic offender. Modi’s lawyers had argued that he cannot be declared a fugitive as various legal requirements stipulated by the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act have not been met by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Under provisions of the Act, a fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect to a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to face criminal prosecution. Once the person is declared a fugitive economic offender, the prosecuting agency has powers to confiscate his properties.
Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the ED and CBI in the scam that was unearthed in January 2018. PNB authorities had alleged they were cheated by the duo through fraudulent LoUs and Foreign Letters of Credit. Both fled India in January last year, before the investigations began.
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