A special court in Mumbai has allowed Nirav Modi’s sister and her husband to become witnesses against the fugitive diamantaire in two cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the Punjab National Bank scam, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
Purvi Mehta, a Belgian national and her husband Maiank Mehta, a British national, had filed applications in the court last month stating that they could provide “substantial and important evidence” and access to bank accounts, assets, companies and entities relevant to Modi’s dealings. In her application for pardon, Purvi Mehta said that she was not a prime accused in the case and has been attributed only a limited role by the investigating agency, according to PTI.
The Mehtas’ lawyer Amit Desai submitted to the court that the professional and personal lives of the couple had been brought to a standstill due to Modi’s alleged criminal activities and that they have distanced themselves from him, the Hindustan Times reported.
After considering their arguments, Special Judge VC Barde on Monday accepted the couple’s pleas for turning approvers and directed them to be present in the court. In their applications, Purvi Mehta and her husband had said they were unable to travel to India because of restrictions on international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, but were willing to provide their statements over video-conference, including before the magistrate, The Indian Express reported.
Modi is facing two sets of criminal proceedings. A Central Bureau of Investigation case relates to a fraud to the tune of Rs 14,000 crore in the Punjab National Bank through fraudulent obtaining of “Letters of Understanding”, while the Enforcement Directorate is investigating the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud. He also faces two additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses, or criminal intimidation to cause death added to the CBI case.
While Purvi Mehta is not named in the CBI case, the ED had alleged that Modi diverted funds worth $175.1 million (over Rs 1,200 crore) through her, the Hindustan Times reported. Her husband had also been named as a co-accused in the chargesheet.
Modi was arrested on March 19, 2019, and is currently lodged in London’s Wandsworth jail. Two separate extradition requests filed by the CBI and ED are currently pending against him.