Jatin Mehta, promoter of Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd, and his wife have given up Indian citizenship and become citizens of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, investigators probing the company’s alleged bank loan default of Rs 6,800 crore, told The Indian Express. St Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island Caribbean nation with which India does not have an extradition treaty and which is known to be a tax haven.
Investigators said Jatin and Sonia gave up Indian citizenship in 2013-14. Mehta is currently residing in Dubai, according to probe agencies.
Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd has been classified as the second largest defaulter in the country by Indian banks. Currently, it is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged fraud, diversion of funds and money laundering. On Tuesday, the ED attached properties worth Rs 172 crore of Winsome Diamonds and its subsidiaries under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). An email sent to Winsome Diamonds did not elicit response.
According to the official website of St Kitts and Nevis, the country offers citizenship to foreign investors in exchange for significant investment in the country either by a donation or investment in real estate purchase.
Mehta gave up his Indian citizenship at a time when Winsome Diamonds said that 13 of its UAE-based distributors defaulted on payments of Rs 4,760 crore to the company. The company claimed that the distributor companies suffered losses of about $1 billion in derivatives and commodity trading and were unable to pay their dues.
Now, the company owes
Rs 4,680 crore to a consortium of banks headed by Standard Chartered Bank. The company’s associate firm Forever Precious Diamonds and Jewellery owes another Rs 2,121.82 crore to a set of banks led by PNB. The company was classified as a “wilful defaulter” by banks in October 2013.