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Nirav Modi letter to staff after PNB fraud: Look for other jobs, can’t pay you now

Jeweller Nirav Modi — allegedly involved in a Rs 11,400-crore fraud case at the Punjab National Bank — is also believed to have written, or will be writing to the ED, CBI and the ministry of external affairs, which had suspended his passport.

business Updated: Feb 21, 2018 17:07 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Nirav Modi,Punjab National Bank,PNB fraud case
File photo of jeweller Nirav Modi during the launch of his store in Mumbai.(Reuters File Photo)

Disgraced diamond czar Nirav Modi on Tuesday wrote an email to his employees in India saying they should look for other jobs because he will not be able to pay them, with investigative agencies seizing the stock of all his companies and the income tax department freezing their bank accounts.

‘The near future is uncertain,” he wrote in the email, which has been seen by HT. A person associated with Modi’s legal team claimed the email is authentic.

Modi is also believed to have written, or will be writing to the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and the ministry of external affairs, which has suspended his passport.

Following the registration of two FIRs against Nirav Modi, his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, and their companies by the Central Bureau of Investigation on charges of defrauding Punjab National Bank of Rs 11,400 crore, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) started probing the money laundering aspect of the case and has so far seized gems, gold and other precious stones worth more than Rs 5,700 crore from companies and stores of the two.

Read | Nirav Modi’s ‘letter’ to PNB: You closed all my options by going public, liability much less than Rs 11,000 crore

Referring to the seizure by the ED, Modi, who left India on January 1 for an unknown destination, told his employees: “As of now, because of seizure and removal of all stocks in factories and showrooms, and freezing of bank accounts, we shall not be in a position to pay your dues, and it would be right on your part to look for other career opportunities.”

Nirav began the email by saying that in view of the recent complaint filed by PNB accusing him of committing fraud, “our organization is suffering”.

“I am also concerned at the speed with which events are moving which make me concerned about the fairness of the processes that are being followed,” he added, singling out the media and politicians for special censure.

This is Modi’s second communication after he was accused of committing the fraud. On February 15, he wrote to Punjab National Bank, accusing it of, in its zeal, crippling his ability to pay back his dues. Modi also claimed in that letter that his dues weren’t Rs 11,400 crore but much less. The person cited in the first instance claimed the bank has responded to him. Hindustan Times couldn’t ascertain this.

Read | Nirav Modi denies allegations in PNB fraud case, his lawyer says ‘there’s nothing in it’

In his letter, Modi referred to the arrest of his accountant Hemant Bhatt by the CBI and said the latter was picked up, despite being 64 years old and suffering from heart ailments. The agency on Tuesday arrested five more executives of firms headed by Modi and Choksi.

Besides the employees of the jewellery firms, the CBI has arrested five more serving or retired employees of PNB in the case (one suspended, one retired, and three serving). The agency on Tuesday questioned an executive director rank official of the bank in connection with its probe into the fraud, said CBI officials familiar with the development who asked not to be named.

The three serving employees of the bank were produced before a court and remanded to CBI custody till March 3. The other three arrested earlier have already been remanded to CBI custody till the same date.

Modi, who designed jewellery for top Hollywood and Bollywood stars, said his operations have come to a standstill but that he will be taking legal recourse to restart them.

“I hope that we will be able to re-associate ourselves in better days. But, I make it clear that I am committed to pay your past dues, if any, once I have access to stocks and the bank accounts,” added Modi.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 07:12 IST