PNB fraud: ED summons Nirav Modi's family, US partner
New Delhi, May 18: The Enforcement Directorate has summoned at least four members of absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi's family, including his father and brother, and his US-based business partner in connection with a money laundering case linked to the over USD 2 billion PNB fraud, officials said.
The family members are required to be questioned as a number of financial transactions and Nirav Modi's businesses are linked to them, they said. The officials said summonses had been issued to Nirav Modi's father Deepak Modi, brother Nishal Modi, sister Purvi Mehta, her husband Mayank Mehta, and Mihir Bhansali, who is the director of the jeweller's US-based firm Firestar Diamond Inc. They said the summonses, issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), were sent through e-mail as all the five people are settled abroad.
The officials said Deepak Modi was suspected to be in Antwerp in Belgium, Nishal and Bhansali could be in the US and the Mehtas were reportedly in Hong Kong. "However, their current locations are not exactly known and hence, summonses have been sent through e-mail," a senior official said. The ED asked them to depose before the investigating officer of the case in Mumbai over the next few days. However, the sources said the agency was not very hopeful about their deposition and joining the probe in person.
A case-to-case call would be taken on the next course of action based on the replies received. Earlier, the ED had summoned Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in a similar fashion, but they did not depose before it, citing business engagements and the revocation of their passports by the government. Nirav Modi and Choksi are being investigated by the ED for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank, the country's second largest lender, to the tune of more than Rs USD 2 billion.
The duo and others are also being probed by other central agencies after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by the PNB that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank. The Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED have registered two first information reports each in the case.
The CBI had earlier this week filed two charge sheets in the case before a Mumbai court, while the ED is expected to file its own prosecution complaint soon. The ED complaint or charge sheet will focus on the money laundering aspect and the role of Nirav Modi, Choksi and others in perpetrating the alleged fraud. Both Nirav Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them.