PNB fraud: ED seizes huge collection of imported watches, freezes Nirav Modi group’s deposits, shares worth Rs 44 cr

Over the last week, a huge collection of imported watches, 176 steel almirahs, 158 boxes and 60 other containers have been seized during ED searches at multiple locations linked to Nirav Modi.

business Updated: Feb 24, 2018 10:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
PNB Fraud,Punjab National Bank,Nirav Modi
A huge collection of imported watches was seized by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday, February 23, 2018.(Enforcement Directorate)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the role of diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in the Rs 11,400-crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank, on Friday froze a bank account with Rs 30 crore balance and shares worth Rs. 13.86 crore held by one of Modi’s companies.

The ED, acting on a tip-off, also recovered a huge quantity of imported watches stacked in 176 steel almirahs, 158 corrugated boxes and 60 plastic containers.

During investigations on Thursday, ED seized nine luxury cars belonging to Modi group and also froze shares and mutual funds worth Rs. 94 crore of Modi and his business partner Choksi. The seized cars include one Rolls Royce Ghost, one Porsche Panamera, two Mercedes Benz, three Honda cars and one Toyota Fortuner and one Innova.

A senior ED official said mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore belonging to Modi and those worth Rs. 86.72 crore of Choksi and his group were seized from several places during Thursday’s search. The total worth of the properties belonging to Modi and Choksi that have been seized or frozen is now Rs 100 crore.

The evaluation of several paintings found in Samudra Mahal premises in Worli belonging to Modi is being carried out by experts, said the ED official.

Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the fraud came to light recently. (Enforcement Directorate)

ED officials have found around 100 current accounts belonging to the Nirav Modi group, which are being probed. The ED and income Tax department have also discovered 200 dummy and shell companies in India and abroad that were allegedly being used to transfer funds in the alleged scam.

“We have asked the details of shell companies of Modi group from Income Tax (IT) department. ED has been also looking money laundering aspects in the scam,” the official said.

Modi, his uncle and Gitanjali Gems promoter Choksi and others are being investigated by the ED and other probe agencies following a complaint by the PNB that they allegedly cheated the state-run bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of few of its employees.

“The fraud amount around Rs 11.400 crore were allegedly transferred in Axis bank and Allahabad bank to Hong Kong branch and further money trail is not traced. We have been trying to find the trail after Hong Kong” added ED official.

The CBI has so far arrested 12 people, including Vipul Ambani, president of finance in one of the companies of Nirav Modi, in two FIRs lodged against Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.

PNB’s general manager Rajesh Jindal, who was in charge of the Brady House branch in Mumbai during August 2009 to May 2011, was among the senior bank officials arrested.

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 12:21 IST