Absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi is afraid of “getting lynched” and hence cannot return to India, his lawyer told a special court Saturday. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), however, dismissed the claim stating he should have filed a police complaint if he felt there were “security threats”.
Modi’s lawyer Vijay Agarwal was arguing before Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court Judge MS Azmi against ED’s application to declare Modi a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Through his lawyer, Modi also said he had no records of his finances with him.
“I am being compared to Ravana, my effigies were burnt during Holi in India. Will I not be worried about my security? My inability to return due to such reasons is being called my refusal to return,” Nirav Modi’s lawyer tells special court in Mumbai today @IndianExpress
— Sadaf Modak (@sadafmodak) December 1, 2018
ED termed Modi’s claims of “security threats” in India “irrelevant” to the case. It argued that Modi has refused to join the probe despite several mails and summons issued to him. According to ED, he does not want to return to India.
Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by Indian agencies after state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) complained against their companies, saying it had been cheated of Rs 13,600 crore through fraudulent LoUs and Foreign Letters of Credit.
Both men left India this January, a few weeks before the scam came to light. Nirav Modi is in the United Kingdom; Choksi has taken citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda and is believed to be currently in the Caribbean country.
In July this year, ED filed two separate applications before the PMLA court in Mumbai seeking confiscation of attached assets of diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.
Modi’s lawyer on Saturday claimed that Modi cannot be declared a fugitive as various legal requirements stipulated by the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act have not been met by CBI.
“The main reason the ED is seeking to declare Nirav Modi a fugitive is that he left India under suspicious circumstances on January 1, 2018. However, there was no criminal case (against him) when he had left the country,” Agarwal said. “They cannot just say that he left the country under suspicious circumstances. They need to specify what those suspicions were. Also there is no material on record to say that he is refusing to return to India,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)