Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against Mihir R Bhansali, CEO of Nirav Modi’s US-based firm Firestar Diamonds, in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore PNB bank fraud case, on a request from the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Bhansali is a close confidant of Modi, sources said.
Bhansali is wanted by Indian probe agencies on charges of money laundering, as per the notice. The ED wants him to join the investigation in order to take the probe forward, sources said. ED had told the Interpol that Bhansali was likely to visit the US, UK, Hong Kong, China or UAE.
The ED has identified Bhansali as the “second-in-command” in the Firestar Group after Modi, and that “he was actively involved in the diversion and laundering of the funds received from the alleged fraudulently issued PNB LOUs (Letters of Undertaking)”. “Bhansali was instrumental in rotation and diversion of the proceeds of crime generated in this case,” an official privy to the probe said.
According to ED’s investigation, Bhansali, with help from other officials of the Firestar Group, “inducted dummy partners in Solar Exports, Stellar Diamond and Diamond R US (Modi’s firms in whose names LOUs were issued)”. “He was instrumental in formation of overseas dummy companies in Hong Kong and Dubai, and employees/ex-employees of the Firestar Group were sent as dummy directors/owners in these entities at his directions,” the agency has alleged.
The ED, as part of its probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), found that a “secure internal email communication system was developed at Bhansali’s insistence and its server was deliberately kept in Dubai”.