A special court in Mumbai on Thursday summoned billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi to appear before it within two months. The two are accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore.
Acting on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, the court gave Modi time till September 25 and Choksi till September 26 or be declared fugitive economic offenders, reported ANI.
The Enforcement Directorate has filed two separate pleas against the two businessmen before the special court that hears cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It had asked the court to declare them fugitive economic offenders and also confiscate their assets, both movable and immovable, worth Rs 3,500 case, reported PTI.
Under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, a fugitive economic offender is defined as “a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution”.
“Investigations have revealed that Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have committed the offence of cheating against Punjab National Bank in connivance with bank officials by fraudulently getting the Letters of Undertaking/Foreign Letters of Credit issued without following prescribed procedure and caused a wrongful loss to the bank,” the agency said. “They have further siphoned off the proceeds of crime so generated through layering through multiple dummy, related, connected entities in India and abroad.”
The Enforcement Directorate filed chargesheets against Modi and Choksi on May 24 and June 26 after which the PMLA court issued non-bailable warrants against them. On July 2, Interpol issued a red corner arrest warrant against Modi.
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. The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation are investigating the matter.