The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has moved an application before the Special CBI Court seeking an order for “forfeiting of property in a foreign land”. The application pertains to an account held with Barclays Bank PLC by Nirav Modi who, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi, is being probed by multiple agencies including the CBI for allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of over Rs 13,000 crore.
The application moved under Section 105 (C) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ) has been submitted to send a Letter Rogatory (LR) to authorities in the United Kingdom, requesting them to freeze the bank account. The matter will be heard on April 4.
“Recently, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) wrote to us informing that Barclays wanted to discontinue the account held by Modi. We, therefore, moved the Special Court seeking the account to be frozen under the relevant provision of the CrPC,” said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.
“In our application, we have informed the court that we strongly suspect that the amount lying in the account is the proceeds of the fraud committed by Modi on PNB. The court is entitled to issue an order under Section 105 (C) of the CrPC for attachment of property. Once the order is used, we will transmit the order through an LR which will be sent to the competent court in UK asking them to direct Barclays to freeze the said account,” said the official. Section 105 (C) of the CrPC deals with assistance in relation to orders of attachment or forfeiture of property in a foreign land. “Where the court has made an order for attachment or forfeiture of any property under sub-section (1), and such property is suspected to be in a contracting state, the court may issue a letter of request to a court or an authority in the contracting state for execution of such order,” the provision states.
A Letter Rogatory is a formal request to a foreign court seeking judicial assistance in probing an entity in another country.
On the application submitted by tax authorities, an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court has already issued an LR to the “competent authority of Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, asking it to “restrain” Nirav Modi and Barclays Bank PLC from transferring 1.2 million GBP from the firm’s account with the bank. “This LR was issued on the request of the tax authority. We have moved a separate application and are awaiting its order,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the CBI, like the Enforcement Directorate (ED), also plans to move the court for issuing an NBW against Modi and Choksi.
“We have written to both on a couple of occasions but they have failed to join our probe. Instead of appearing before us they have been sending emails citing reasons for not being available for probe. We have therefore decided to move for an NBW against the two so that a Red Corner Notice (RCN) is issued,” said the official.