PNB fraud case: Interpol notice against Nirav Modi's brother put up for public viewing again
New Delhi, May 25: The Interpol has placed the Red Corner Notice against fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's brother Nehal in public view again, after he recently lost an appeal against its issuance by the international police cooperation body last year, on the request of Indian agencies, officials said.
A Belgian citizen, Nehal Deepak Modi is wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case of alleged fraud committed by his elder brother, Nirav, in the Punjab National Bank (PNB), they added. Nehal Modi's name figured as the accused number 27 in the supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI, which charged him for destroying evidence in Dubai to cover the tracks of the alleged crime, the officials said.
Based on a request from Indian agencies, the Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Nehal Modi and put it up for public viewing to enable gathering of information about him. An RCN is a request to law-enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action. Nehal Modi challenged it before the Commission for Control of Interpol's Files (CCF), an independent body that ensures that all personal data processed through Interpol's channels conforms to the rules of the organisation.
Any individual can approach it with a request for deletion or correction of information held in the Interpol Information System. Once the request challenging the RCN was received from Nehal Modi last year, the Interpol hid it from public glare but kept it alive, only to be accessible to the law-enforcement agencies of member countries, the officials said.
The CCF had sought clarifications on Nehal Modi's arguments from the CBI, which provided a strong counter-argument against his plea. After going through the exhaustive response filed by the agency, which keenly followed up the matter, the CCF rejected Nehal Modi's plea recently and the RCN was again put in public domain, the officials added.
In its chargesheet, the central agency has alleged that Nehal Modi had threatened the directors of Dubai-based shell companies, used by Nirav Modi to show fair businesses, to prevent them from joining investigations. It is alleged that he forcibly shifted them from Dubai to Cairo, after destroying their mobile phones, laptops and the server to cover the tracks. These persons, employees of Nirav Modi Group companies, were forced to sign certain documents to show that they were the real owners of those companies in Dubai and Hong Kong, which were shown as engaged in export and import with the three accused firms -- Diamonds R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamond -- all controlled by Nirav Modi, the CBI has alleged.
The three companies benefitted from the buyer's credit obtained from overseas banks on the strength of Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) fraudulently issued from Mumbai's Brady House branch of the PNB, in connivance with bank officials. When some of these directors were questioned by the CBI, they said gold weighing approximately 50 kg as well as the funds lying in the accounts of dummy companies in Dubai, amounting to 40 lakh dirhams, were taken away by the accused persons after filing of FIRs.
Billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, currently in a UK prison, and his uncle and promoter of the Gitanjali group, Mehul Choksi, currently in Antigua, fled India after allegedly perpetrating a USD-2 billion bank fraud on the state-run PNB, the officials said. The duo fled the country in the first week of January 2018, along with some family members, nearly a fortnight before the PNB detected the fraud -- which is said to be biggest in the country's banking history, they added.
The CBI, in its chargesheets filed on May 14, has alleged that Nirav Modi, through his companies, siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs 6,498.20 crore, using fraudulent LoUs issued from PNB's Brady House branch in Mumbai. Choksi has allegedly swindled Rs 7,080.86 crore. It is alleged that Nirav Modi and Choksi, through their companies, availed credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using fraudulent guarantees of the PNB given through LoUs and letters of credit, which were not repaid, bringing the liability on the state-run bank, the officials said.
An LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks with branches abroad to grant a short-term credit to the applicant. The instructions for transferring the funds were allegedly issued by a bank employee, Gokulnath Shetty, using an international messaging system for banking called SWIFT platform and without making their subsequent entries in the PNB's internal banking software, thus bypassing any scrutiny in the bank, the officials said.