A month before fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018, his sister Purvi Modi set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore.
Records investigated by The Indian Express show that the firm, Brookton Management Ltd, was set up in December 2017 to act as the corporate protector of The Deposit Trust.
Purvi, in the incorporation form for BVI companies, declared that the source of funds to be infused into Brookton were salary and her personal earnings as the creative director of Firestar, the firm that is accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank (PNB) through fraudulent letters of undertaking (LOUs).
These documents of the new firm and the trust set up by Purvi are part of the Pandora Papers.
Significantly, Purvi, earlier named as an accused in the $2 billion (Rs 13,600 crore) money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, has now turned approver and is likely to escape prosecution as the court has pardoned her on the condition of full and true disclosure.
Purvi, a Belgian national, also has an Interpol red notice against her.
Manavendra Mishra, lawyer of Purvi Modi, in an email response to The Indian Express, said, “We are the lawyers acting for Ms Purvi Modi in India. We deny all the below allegations raised in your email. We are not in a position to respond or comment at this stage since the matter is sub-judice before the special PMLA court.”
Records also show that Purvi and her brother Neeshal Modi are beneficial owners of three BVI firms: Integrated Investing Ltd; Xclusive Consultant Ltd; and Panera Assets Inc which, according to the ED, were used to launder money by Nirav Modi.
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According to the Trident Trust company records, Integrated Investing in October 2012 set up a branch in Dubai called Diagems FZC. Similarly, Xclusive Consultants Ltd set up Universal Fine Jewellery FZE in January 2012. The ED has alleged both Diagems and Universal Fine are “dummy companies” used by Nirav Modi to divert $265 million (Rs 1,811 cr) to his sister Purvi Modi.
Records show that Purvi Modi was also the settlor and beneficial owner of Monte Cristo Trust, managed by Trident Trust Singapore.
The trust, documents show, set up a BVI firm, Belvedere Holdings Group Ltd, in 2013. The ED has alleged that in 2017, a property in London was purchased in the name of Belvedere Holdings Group Limited for EUR 6.25 million. This property, which belongs to Purvi, has been attached by ED as a part of the proceeds of crime allegedly generated by Nirav Modi while perpetrating the bank fraud.
Nirav Modi left India in the first week of January 2018 before the PNB scam came out in public. In March 2019, Modi was arrested in the United Kingdom and is currently lodged at Wandsworth prison in London.
Last month, Nirav Modi moved the UK high court for an oral hearing with a renewed “leave to appeal” application for a judge to determine if it can proceed to a full appeal hearing against extradition ordered by a lower court.
In April, the UK government approved the extradition of Modi to India. Earlier, on February 25, a UK court had ordered Modi’s extradition. It held that the evidence against him was prima facie sufficient to order his extradition to India to face the charges.
On July 1, the ED said it has recovered Rs 17.25 crore from an account of Purvi in the UK, which was opened by Nirav Modi. This, the agency said, was done after Purvi disclosed the information to the probe agency.
So far, the ED has seized assets worth Rs 2,400 crore belonging to Modi in India and abroad.