In a fresh development in the Punjab National Bank scam, the Mumbai Debts Recovery Tribunal-I, has ordered absconder diamantaire Nirav Modi and others, and his group companies, to repay the Rs 7,030 crore due to the PNB since the past nearly two years.
The DRT-1's diktat of November 22 has also ordered Modi and other accused to shell out interest at the rate of 14.30 per cent on the entire amount with effect from June 30, 2018, plus costs of Rs 175,000, within 15 days, failing which recovery proceedings would be initiated by the PNB.
The notices have been served to Modi, and his close relatives like Ami N. Modi, Neeshal D. Modi, Deepak K. Modi, Nehal D. Modi, Rohin N. Modi, Ananya N. Modi, Apasha N. Modi and Purvi Mayank Mehta.
Besides, their group companies have also been served the notices in the same case, signed by Sujeet Kumar, In-Charge Recovery Officer, DRT-I Mumbai.
These include Stellar Diamonds, Solar Exports, Diamond RUS, Firestar International Ltd (formerly, Firestar International Pvt. Ltd.) and 13 of its branches in Mumbai, Gujarat and Rajasthan, ANM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., NDM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd.
While Nirav Modi's notices have been sent to his known addresses at Grosvenor House in Mumbai and to Shera Towers in Dubai, another relative Nehal D. Modi's notice has been sent to his known address in New York.
Incidentally, this order comes barely four months after the DRT-Pune Presiding Officer Deepak Thakker had given a similar edict in July.
Earlier, in February 2019, the DRT Mumbai had summoned him on March 12, 2019, in a case of Rs 232 crore filed by the PNB to recover the money naming the Union Bank Of India and also its own subsidiary - PNB Investment Services Ltd, New Delhi and Mumbai - as parties.
Nirav Modi "who was seen well-dressed and in a relaxed mood strolling down a London steet in March this year" was arrested by the UK authorities after a furore back home. Now, India is making all-out efforts to get him extradited and face the laws here.
In February 2017, Nirav Modi - along with his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, their relatives, company officials, past and present officials and top rung executives of PNB were booked in the massive scam running into around Rs 14,000 crore, perpetrated out of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking, issued by the bank's Brady House Branch in Mumbai.
According to the PNB's investigations, its core banking system was bypassed by two staffers who issued LoUs to foreign branches of other banks like UBI, Allahabad Bank, Axis Bank, using the SWIFT route, but the extent of their total exposure was unclear.
Multiple probe agencies including the Enforcement Director and Customs Department are involved in related cases, and the ED has already attached most of Nirav Modi's properties, some have been disposed, and his sprawling illegal bungalow in Alibaug, Raigad was demolished last March.
Banking expert and Maharashtra Trade Unions Joint Action Committee Convenor V. Utagi said the PNB must seize all assets of Modi and Choksi and start the recovery, since its nearly two years after the scam broke out.
"The PNB must ensure it realises the actual market value of their assets and are not devalued in any manner to give an advantage to unscrupulous persons to acquire them at throwaway prices," Utagi told IANS.
Despite repeated attempts by IANS, PNB officials were not available to comment in the matter.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)