Government agencies coordinating to bring back Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi: Sources
The court has also allowed the I-T Department to auction 68 paintings owned by Nirav Modi and deposit the auction proceeds with ED.Updated: Mar 21, 2019 08:08 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax (I-T) Department are making coordinated efforts to extradite absconders Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud even as they simultaneously initiate recovery processes, two government officials said on condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday, extradition proceedings officially began against Modi after he was arrested in London. His bail was denied on account of the size of the fraud he is alleged to have perpetrated.
A legal team representing Indian agencies are already there in London with necessary documents. If required, a team of ED officials may also go to London. Simultaneously, extradition proceedings are on to get Choksi extradited from Antigua, said the officials.
The agencies said they are also taking steps to recover the money and send a strong signal to fugitive economic offenders. A special court in Mumbai has allowed ED to auction 11 luxury vehicles owned by Nirav Modi, including a Rolls Royce, a Porsche and a Mercedes Benz.
The court has also allowed the I-T Department to auction 68 paintings owned by Nirav Modi and deposit the auction proceeds with ED.
The court has issued non-bailable warrants against Ami Modi, wife of Nirav Modi. ED confirmed the developments in a series of tweets.
A PNB executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Out of about Rs 13,500 crore fraud, the shares of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi could be in the ratio of 60:40. Hence, arrest of Nirav is a major achievement of Indian agencies. The extradition may, however, take some time as it would involve lengthy legal battle in London”.
“These developments are, however, positive, which will also have a deterring effect on such borrowers who may think that they can dupe public sector banks and get away with the crime,” the executive added.
PNB’s stock jumped 3.37% to close at Rs 93.55 apiece on Wednesday following Nirav Modi’s arrest.
Reacting to the developments, minister of state (independent charge) housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted: “You can run, but cannot hide from the country’s #Chowkidar. As wheels of justice grind, after Vijay Mallya, fugitive Nirav Modi has been arrested in London. Clear sign that this is not the India which will allow economic offenders to loot the country & evade the long arm of law”.
Modi’s arrest is a boost in the arm for the Bharatiya Janata Party which is seeking re-election in the summer’s parliamentary elections. It was criticised by its opponents for allegedly letting Modi, and before him , liquor baron Mallya (who owed banks around Rs 9,000 crore) escape. The arrest is also timely. On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign to showcase his fight against corruption. He also changed his twitter display name to mention the workd chowkidar (watchman). Almost the entire Union cabinet followed suit as did a few million of Modi’s followers.
First Published: Mar 21, 2019 05:33 IST