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Thursday, September 24, 2020

PNB scam: ED opposes plea of Nirav Modi’s son on confiscation of properties

Rohin Modi’s counsel submitted that the properties were purchased in 2006, much before the alleged crime was committed, in 2011, and therefore it did not form part of the proceeds of crime.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | August 11, 2020 2:16:33 am
Nirav Modi, Nirav Modi case, Nirav Modi extradition, Nirav Modi money laundering case, India news, Indian ExpressThe 49-year-old fugitive diamond merchant is fighting extradition charges related to the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.

Rohin Modi, son of fugitive diamantaire and accused in Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam Nirav Modi, on Monday sought directions from the Bombay High Court to restrain the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from auctioning properties at Samudra Mahal building in Worli among others. He claimed that the recently confiscated properties was owned by Rohin Trust, of which he was a beneficiary, and not by Nirav Modi.

Rohin’s counsel submitted that the properties were purchased in 2006, much before the alleged crime was committed, in 2011, and therefore it did not form part of the proceeds of crime. ED opposed the plea, saying that the properties were purchased by Nirav Modi and his wife Ami Modi in 2006 and therefore its confiscation was justified.

A division bench of Justice Sadhana S Jadhav and Justice N J Jamadar was hearing a plea filed by Rohin through advocates Abhimanyu Bhandari and Lakshyavedh Odhekar, seeking status quo on properties at Samudra Mahal.

Last month, the ED had confiscated properties worth Rs 329.66 crore of Nirav Modi under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 (FEOA).

The ED in a statement said the confiscated properties of Modi include four flats at the iconic Samudra Mahal in Worli, a seaside farm house and land in Alibaug, a windmill in Jaisalmer, a flat in London, residential flats in the UAE and shares and bank deposits.

Advocate Bhandari argued that confiscated properties also included properties owned by Rohin Trust. He challenged confiscation of the Trust properties, stating that it was against the principles of natural justice and the order was passed by the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Court without making Rohin a party or issuing him a notice.

However, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing ED, opposed the plea and submitted that the Rohin Trust was formed in 2006 with only Rs 1,000 and properties worth Rs 24 crore were purchased by it in the same year with Nirav and Ami Modi paying for it. “It cannot be said that in any circumstance the petitioner (Rohin) was not aware as the Trust was the owner of properties. They want to get back properties by different ways like this,” Singh said.

The ED said that a special court in Mumbai had declared Modi a fugitive economic offender on December 5, 2019 and on June 8 directed the ED to confiscate his assets worth in crores. ASG Singh said, “The amount of nearly Rs 6,498 crore was laundered. Where such a huge laundered amount is involved and the offender did not bother to come back and no case was made out by the petitioner, no relief can be granted.”

After hearing submissions, the bench directed the petitioner to submit a copy of the special court’s order that stated reasons for confiscation, adding that it would pass orders on Rohin’s plea on August 13. Earlier, on March 4, the High Court had refused to stay the auction proceedings of some rare paintings and other items seized by the ED from the residence of Nirav Modi. It had directed the ED to deposit the auction proceeds in a separate bank account.

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