A special court in Mumbai Wednesday approved the Income Tax (IT) department’s plea to sell 11 cars belonging to fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi. Modi’s properties were attached as part of the probe in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam where he is accused of siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore through fraudulent letters of undertaking in connivance with his uncle Mehul Choksi and bank officials at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.
Another application filed by the IT department had sought permission to proceed with the auction of 68 paintings belonging to Camelot Enterprises Pvt Ltd, where Modi is the major shareholder. The court was informed that while the paintings were provisionally attached, the order confirming the attachment is yet to be confirmed by an adjudicating authority. The court, therefore, left it to the liberty of the IT department to proceed with the auction if it wants to in accordance with law.
Earlier, the IT department had approached a professional auction house, Saffronart, to carry out the auction on their behalf on March 26. The approximate value for the auction is Rs 30-50 crore, Saffronart members had said. However, the paintings were also a part of the attachment proceedings going on before the special court designated them under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The IT department, hence, approached the court to seek permission.
“The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax department submitted that 68 paintings include 173 units of paintings which were provisionally attached and the order is pending before an adjudicating authority for confirmation. While the order is yet to be confirmed, the ED said that it was not resisting the application. This court cannot restrain or permit the IT department for the auction of the said paintings. The IT department is at liberty to proceed in accordance with the law,” Special Judge MS Azmi said in his order on Wednesday.
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The court, however, gave IT department a go-ahead to sell Modi’s cars which include Porsche AG Germany Model, Mercedes Benz CLS 350, Mercedes Benz 4 Matic FL 350, Daimler Chrysler Coupe, Rolls Royce Ghost, Toyota Fortuner, two Toyota Innova, Honda CRV and Honda Brio.
“The procedure for the sale of the vehicles should be followed as per rules prescribed and the entire procedure after the sale be submitted to the court. The proceeds of the sale should be deposited in the State Bank of India or any nationalised bank in a fixed deposit,” the court said.