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ED, CBI turn up heat on Nirav Modi; jewellery worth Rs 5100 Cr seized

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Central investigation agencies today turned up the heat on in a huge fraud case, by seizing diamond and gold jewellery worth Rs 5,100 crore in nationwide searches and initiating the process for revoking his passport, officials said. The CBI and the ED moved separate to the external affairs ministry seeking the revocation of passports of Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali jewellery chain, both accused in the 280-crore fraud case the officials said. The (CBI) completed the analysis of computers seized from premises linked to him and was going through the two fresh complaints received from (PNB) on Tuesday that it had been defrauded of Rs 11,400 crore to decide its future course of action. The day for companies and outlets owned or partnered by the 46-year-old diamond merchant, who has fled the country on January 1, began with the (ED) carrying out searches at properties linked to him in Mumbai, and and claiming to have seized gold and diamond jewellery and precious stones worth Rs 5,100 crore.

As many as 17 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and were raided by the ED after the agency filed a Rs 280-crore money laundering case against Modi, his wife Ami, brother and Choksi yesterday, following a complaint by the bank. ED officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five properties belonging to Modi and the other accused in were sealed by the agency. The ED has also written to the Income Tax department for sharing all documents seized by it during raids on January last year from premises linked to Modi and his associates. The ED filed the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after going through a CBI FIR registered on January 31. The agency also went through the PNB complaint that was made out against and others. The ED, they said, would probe if the allegedly were laundered and these proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money. Modi, a regular feature on the lists of rich and famous since 2013, was booked by the CBI, along with wife, brother and Choksi on January 31, for allegedly cheating the to the tune of Rs 280 crore. The bank has sent two more complaints to the CBI on Tuesday, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 11,400 crore. In a related development, the CBI officials said Modi and other members of his family, who fled the country last month, allegedly made fraudulent transactions of over Rs 11,400 crore through 150 letters of understanding issued by the bank. Modi, who holds an Indian passport, left on January 1, while his brother Nishal, a Belgian citizen, also left the country on same day. However, whether they travelled together has to be probed, they said. Modi's wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and his uncle Choksi departed on January 4, the officials said. The bank became suspicious only on January 16 when the accused companies --Diamond R US, Solar Exports and (all accused in the CBI FIR) -- approached it with import documents and a request to issue Letters of Understanding (LoUs) for raising buyers' credit for making payments to the The bank, however, could not find any past entries in the system, the FIR has alleged. It approached the CBI on January 29 with a complaint of Rs 280 crore fraud, officials said. Modi, who is believed to be in Switzerland, was also present in a group photograph of Indian CEOs with Narendra Modi, issued by the Press Information Bureau, during the on January 23, six days before the bank sent its first complaint against him to the CBI, according to the officials. The agency immediately swung into action registering an FIR on January 31 followed by searches at 20 locations in and and issued a look out circular on February 4 against and three absconding accused, they said. A look out circular is issued by enforcement agencies to all exit and entry ports to inform them about the movement of an accused. The question why the PNB did not send one complaint to the CBI and decided to give separately is also under the scanner of the agency, they said. The agency is analysing the fresh complaints and will take a call whether to register fresh FIRs or expand the ambit of the existing FIR related to fraudulent transactions of worth Rs 280 crore, they said. In these cases, the bank has alleged that the LOUs were issued to Hong Kong-based branches of and Axis Bank, they said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 21:20 IST