New Delhi, Feb 23: "Finding NiMo" has become a national obsession, these days. After billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi fled the country to escape facing the law for his alleged involvement in the Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, the whole nation seems to be asking "where is Nirav Modi or NiMo?" On social media, several jokes on "Finding NiMo" are trending. Jokes apart, the "fraudster", who is enjoying a high-flying life by looting taxpayers' money, needs to be brought back to India immediately for a fair trial.
Multiple reports suggest multiple locations where NiMo could be traced. NiMo is the abbreviated version of Nirav Modi. Like Indians have coined NaMo, the favourite sobriquet to address Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The phrase "Finding NiMo" has been inspired by the hugely successful animated English film, Finding Nemo, based on the story of a baby clownfish.
Initially, after the scam came to light, television reports stated that the fugitive billionaire, who masterminded the latest gigantic banking fraud, was staying at a plush hotel in New York. Later reports stated that the 47-year-old diamond designer whose creations were worn by both Hollywood and Bollywood divas like Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra could be hiding in Dubai or in Belgium, where he spent several years of his childhood.
Last time Nirav Modi was seen in public was in Davos, Switzerland. There's a photograph to prove it too. In a viral picture, Nirav Modi was seen posing with PM Modi and other business honchos at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23. Reports say that Nirav Modi and his family members left the country on January 1.
The law enforcement agencies are yet to confirm about Nirav Modi's whereabouts. However, the email id on which the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has recently sent a notice to Nirav Modi holds the key to his current location.
It's a well-known fact that the law enforcement agencies can locate a person by tracking his/her online activity. The MEA and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are tight-lipped about the possible "hideout" of Nirav Modi.
The email was reportedly sent to Nirav Modi's personal address by the MEA to inform him about the suspension of his passport and asking him to respond by Friday. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "A request had been received to send notice to a particular email ID. Accordingly, the notice was sent to the email ID as requested."
On Thursday, when the MEA spokesperson was interacting with the media, he refused to answer the query on Nirav Modi's whereabouts. Kumar said the question should be addressed to the law enforcement agencies. "There are certain investigations and legal procedures which need to be completed before the MEA comes into the picture," he added.
The CBI, on its part, maintains that the Interpol has been alerted and now Nirav Modi's whereabouts have to be established through diplomatic channels. "We only know that he left India on January 1 for Dubai with his brother Nishal," CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal has said.
According to the officials of the Enforcement Directorate, they have seized nine cars belonging to Nirav Modi. The ED stated that it has frozen the fugitive billionaire's shares and mutual funds worth Rs 7.8 crore and that of his uncle Mehul Choksi valued at Rs 86.72 crore.
A few days ago Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah stated that assets worth more than Rs 5,000 crore were seized from properties belonging to Nirav Modi and his associates within three days of the fraud coming to light. Shah added that the investigation was on to crack the case.
The entire banking fraud has become a political hot potato as the Congress is demanding an answer from the PM. The BJP, on its part, has alleged that the scam began in 2011 during the previous Congress-led UPA government.