The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lashed out at Congress after its leader Randeep Surjewala referred to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, whose firm is involved in Rs 11,000 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank, as ‘Chota Modi’. “What is this word ‘Chhota Modi’? BJP takes strong offence to the kind of language being used by describing someone like that. It is derogatory, scandalous and demeaning,” said Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday in a press conference.
The minister rubbished Congress charges that the government has helped Nirav in leaving the country. He also rejected the Congress claim that Prime Minister Narendra had met Nirav during his visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum. “Nirav Modi did not meet PM Modi at Davos. Nirav Modi had arrived in Davos on his own and was present at CII group photo event,” claimed Prasad.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, had earlier in the day, showed a picture in which Nirav can be seen along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Davos. Surjewala also alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office was informed about the alleged fraud in July 2016, but it did not act in the matter.
“Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, was made aware of this entire fraud by one Shri Hari Prasad by way of a written complaint filed on 26th July, 2016 and acknowledged by PMO,” said Surjewala, adding that “no action was taken” and the “bank lost the money and the accused escaped.” He also alleged that PM Modi was aware of 42 FIRs pending against the absconding.
Responding to the photograph, Prasad said, “Congress photo ki rajneeti bandh kare. Many good and cozy photographs of many of the Congress leaders with Mehul Choksi is available with us, but we don’t want to stoop to that level.”.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, had earlier in the day, tweeted: “Guide to looting India by Nirav Modi–1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS. Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000 crore B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the government looks the other way,” Gandhi tweeted.
Guide to Looting India
by Nirav MODI
1. Hug PM Modi
2. Be seen with him in DAVOS
Use that clout to:
A. Steal 12,000Cr
B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Govt looks the other way.
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 15, 2018
The Congress alleged that the NDA government was looking the other way when Modi used his clout with the prime minister to slip out of the country and steal Rs 12,000 crore, drawing a comparison with the case of liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
State-owned Punjab National Bank had on Wednesday said that it had detected a USD 1.77 billion (about Rs 11,400 crore) scam where Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking from a branch in Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other Indian lenders.
ALSO READ | Who is Nirav Modi
ED raids diamond trader Nirav Modi
A day after the massive fraud was unearthed in a PNB branch, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday launched a nationwide raid on the offices, showrooms and workshops of Nirav Modi. ED teams carried out simultaneous raids on Modi’s offices, showrooms and diamond workshops in Mumbai, Surat (Gujarat) and New Delhi.
ED officials landed at Firestar Diamond Pvt Ltd. head office in Bharat Diamond Bourse, in Bandra Kurla Complex, Modi’s private office at Kohinoor City in Kurla West, his showroom and boutique at Itts House in Fort in south Mumbai and a workshop in Peninsula Business Park in Lower Parel.
In Gujarat, six diamond workshops were raided in Surat SEZ at Sachin town and an office in Belgium Towers on Ring Road, the hub of diamond jewellery trade. Two diamond jewellery boutiques of Modi in New Delhi – in Chanakyapuri and Defence Colony – were also raided.
— ANI (@ANI) February 15, 2018
At least 10 bank employees have been suspended but it is not clear whether anybody from the crucial PNB Credit Approval Committee or its Board of Directors figure among them.
The fraud, which includes money-laundering among others, concerns the Firestar Diamonds group in which the CBI last week booked Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal and a maternal uncle Mehul Choksi. It followed a complaint lodged by PNB on January 29 pertaining to an alleged cheating case of Rs 280 crore perpetrated by these four in 2011.
PNB assures action
The Punjab National Bank (PNB) said it will take “full-capacity” action against the wrong doers in the Rs 11,400-crore Nirav Modi fraud case, which started in 2011. PNB CMD Sunil Mehta told reporters, “In the last 123 years, we have seen many ups and down. The bank at its full capacity will take every action to book wrongdoers.
“This fraud had started in 2011. Our own bank detected first and told the law enforcement agencies about this. PNB is fully committed to its clean banking policy. That is why we are the first one to detect and report this to the various law enforcement agencies,” he added.
Where is Nirav Modi?
According to CBI, Nirav Modi had left the country on January 1 much before the CBI received a complaint from Punjab National Bank on January 29 about a Rs 280-crore fraud. He is believed to be in Switzerland.
Nirav’s brother Nishal, a Belgian citizen, also left the country on January 1, while wife Ami, a US citizen, and business partner Mehul Choksi, the Indian promoter of Gitanjali jewellery chain, departed on January 6, officials said.
The CBI issued a look out circular against all the four after registering the first FIR against them, they said. A look out circular is issued by enforcement agencies to all exit and entry ports to inform them about the movement of an accused. READ MORE