Punjab National Bank (PNB) revealed on Wednesday that it detected fraudulent transactions worth Rs 11, 000 crore in a south Mumbai corporate branch, involving firms promoted by jeweller Nirav Modi. Modi has not commented on the case so far but his flagship Firestar Diamond has said it had no involvement in the case.
On January 29, CBI booked Modi, his wife Ami Modi, brother Nishal Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi in an alleged Rs 280-crore cheating case acting on a PNB complaint. However, upon discovering that the total “unauthorised transactions” by Modi’s firms were worth $1,771.7 million, the the state-owned bank filed another complaint with the CBI on February 13.
Born into a Gujarati family, Modi founded Firestar Diamond and has a booming retail business across top cities of the world including Delhi, Mumbai, New York, London, Hong Kong and Macau. In 2015, the inauguration of his first store in New York’s Madison Avenue was attended by Donald Trump, FortuneIndia reported. Modi’s retail market presence has expanded in recent years marking him as one of the youngest Indians in the Forbes Billionaires List 2017.
While his family was in India, the billionaire businessman grew up in Belgium, which is known as the centre for international refined diamond trade. Though he went to Wharton Business School, he dropped out and moved to India to train in the diamond trade under his uncle. Years later, he started the Nirav Modi jewellery brand and is known to have rich clients in the international market. Last year, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra was also roped in to be the global ambassador for the Nirav Modi brand.
Priyanka had then said: “Nirav and I are fiercely proud of our heritage and are united by the idea of bringing a modern India to the global forefront. I have worn the brand on many occasions and have always been impressed with the exquisite designs, the finesse, the clarity and femininity of the jewels.”
In January 2017, The Indian Express had also reported that the income tax department raided over 50 offices and residential premises of Modi and seized cash, jewellery and several documents that allegedly revealed tax evasion by his firms. The agency had allegedly found evidence of bogus purchases and cash sales that were not recorded in the books of the firms.
The CBI had also surveyed the offices of Gitanjali Group – one of the largest diamond companies in India and a listed jewellery retailer promoted by Choksi – in connection with the investigation.