The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to move court to obtain non-bailable warrants (NBWs) for arrest against diamantaire Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi since both have failed to appear before the agency in connection with the ongoing probe into the Rs 11,400-crore fraudulent transactions at the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The ED, sources said, had already issued three summons to Modi and Choksi, asking them to appear in person before the agency for probes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In their replies to ED, they have expressed their inability to appear before the agency since their “passports have been revoked”.
Sanjay Abbot, lawyer representing Choksi, said: “My client has received a summon from ED and he has replied to it. He has said that he cannot travel as his passport has been revoked.”
While Nirav Modi left India on January 1, his maternal uncle Choksi left on January 4. Sources said Modi is still in the US and investigative agencies are trying to establish his exact location.
On Monday, PMLA court special judge Salman Azmi allowed the ED’s application seeking Letters Rogatory (LRs) to six countries under the stringent PMLA in connection with its investigation against Nirav Modi.
The ED, in its application, said that Modi had established various firms/companies and become an “integrated diamond manufacturer” who bought rough diamonds, sold polished ones and other stones and designed jewellery. It said Modi’s business consisted of trading in rough and polished diamonds, private label jewellery manufacturing and sale in the name and style of ‘Nirav Modi’ and ‘Firestar’.
The ED claimed that Modi had spread his business operations in several countries including Hong Kong, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Singapore. It claimed that he had generated huge proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 6,498 crore by issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking in favour of his firms from Punjab National Bank.
“(This amount) had been siphoned off by the accused persons and thereby laundered, amalgamated in mainstream financial system to project the same as untainted property. Certain part of the said proceed of crime or property involved in money laundering is reasonably believed to be parked in requested states as above,” the ED application said.
It requested that the court, under section 57 of the PMLA, issue the LRs to six countries to identify and seize the proceeds of the crime, both movable and immovable, and collect evidence and produce documents for the purpose of ongoing investigation against Modi and others.
Meanwhile, the CBI last week made inquiries with the Mumbai office of top law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) in connection with a banking-related assignment given by Modi to the firm — a few weeks before the PNB scam became public. The law firm, sources said, had terminated the contract immediately after the PNB reported the scam on February 14.
CAM sources said the firm handed over to the CBI all documents related to the assignment.
Cyril Shroff, managing partner of the law firm, declined to comment.
A CBI spokesperson said: “Last week, during the searches on Nirav Modi group of firms, we found that some of the documents pertaining to the companies were with Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. So we went to their office, asked them for the documents and collected it from them.”
CAM is not the only law firm that had been engaged by Modi for work. In the past, several law firms were given mandates on behalf of Modi and his firms.