Widening its probe into the PNB fraud case, the Enforcement Directorate will soon send judicial requests to over a dozen countries for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of diamantaire Nirav Modi and owner of Gitanjali Gems Mehul Choksi. Official sources said the agency will approach a competent court in Mumbai with a request to obtain Letters Rogatories (LRs) to be sent to about 15-17 countries where the central investigation agency has traced the footsteps of the diamond and gold jewellery businesses of the firms owned by Modi, his uncle Choksi and others associated with them. The countries where the LRs would be sent include Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa. Some official requests on the basis of agency-to-agency exchange will also be sent to few countries, the sources said.
The attempt of sending these judicial requests for exchange of information is aimed at obtaining the details of the overseas financial holdings of Modi and Choksi, who are accused in the Rs 11,400 crore PNB loan fraud case, their bank accounts, assets, partnerships, showrooms, trusts and other assets, they said. These assets and their sources of income will be investigated and if necessary would be attached under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) if it is found that they have been created using tainted funds or the proceeds of crime of the alleged bank fraud, the sources said. Meanwhile, Modi, his wife Ami, and Choksi have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to appear at its zonal office in Mumbai tomorrow. Sources indicated that if they skip the summons, the agency may approach a special PMLA court to get non-bailable warrants against them.
The agency has also asked about 16 other banks, apart from the Punjab National Bank, to share with it the details of loans extended and collaterals offered in the case of Modi, Choksi and their companies. It has also asked the RBI to share with it audit reports of the PNB conducted by it since 2011. The total assets seized by the ED in this case are now over Rs 6,393 crore, officials had said, adding that this was being independently valued.
Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by the ED and other probe agencies after the fraud recently came to light, following a complaint by the PNB that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank. The CBI and the ED have registered two FIRs each to probe the case. Both Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them. The ED, a central probe agency under the Union finance ministry, is investigating if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.