ED to start the process of identifying and seizing Nirav Modi’s overseas assets in 6 countries

The Enforcement Directorate was allowed a plea to seize Nirav Modi’s properties located in six different countries on Monday. The ED had approached a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court to attach properties of the PNB bank Fraud accused spread in six countries. The court has allowed the plea seeking the Letter Rogatory (LRs) to the relevant authorities in six countries to aid the ED to identify and seize the properties.

The six countries are Hong Kong, USA, UK, South Africa, Singapore and UAE. Lawyer Hiten Venegaokar appealed to the PMLA court on behalf of ED. The ED has reasons to believe that certain parts of the proceeds of the PNB Fraud or even property involved in money laundering are located in these six countries.

Special Judge M S Azmi allowed the plea. The ED will also collect documents and other evidence pertaining to the Nirav Modi’s fraud case with this authorisation. The LRs will now be sent to the competent authorities of the countries through the Ministry of External Affairs. By the LRs the ED is also authorised to hold inquiries in the respective countries.

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The PNB Fraud came to light two weeks ago when the Punjab National Bank issued a letter highlighting unauthorised LoUs being issued and Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi were believed to have cheated the bank of about 1.7 billion US dollars. Earlier today news reports came that stated the total amount might be 1300 crores rupees more than the initial estimates.

The ED has been swift in attaching Nirav Modi’s properties and accounts in this case. Several of his showrooms and offices have been raided in the past two weeks and most of his properties and those belonging to his wife and brother have been attached by the agency. The CBI has also arrested the bank employees involved in the scam and several high officials in Nirav Modi’s companies.

With the court’s authorisation, the ED is now expected to move to the six countries to further seize Nirav Modi’s properties there. Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are still absconding. Their passports have been revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs.

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