The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday moved a special court seeking to confiscate the attached assets of absconding jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi immediately and declare the two as fugitives under a new ordinance, reported The Indian Express. The assets of the two businessmen, who are accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore, are valued at over Rs 3,500 crore.
If the accused fail to appear in the court within six weeks, the court will declare them fugitive offenders, according to Firstpost. Under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, their assets in India and abroad will be liable for confiscation and can be sold even before the trial starts. So far, the agency has attached Modi’s assets worth Rs 1,175 crore and that of Choksi worth Rs 2,400 crore in India. This includes movable and immovable assets, diamonds, gold and jewellery.
On June 26, the Enforcement Directorate moved a special court in Mumbai seeking to extradite the diamond merchant. The agency has sought to extradite Modi from some countries, such as United Kingdom, Belgium and Hong Kong, based on a chargesheet filed against him and Choksi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Earlier in June, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Mumbai issued a non-bailable warrant against Modi and Choksi. The Interpol, on July 2, issued a Red Corner Notice against Modi and listed him as an accused on money laundering charges.
The fraud came to light in February when the Punjab National Bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it had detected “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions” worth Rs 11,380 crore at its Brady House branch in South Mumbai. A few officials of the public sector bank had allegedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to Modi’s companies. Some of them have been arrested and are under investigation.