CBI files fresh case against Mehul Choksi
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a fresh case against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, his firm Gitanjali Gems Ltd (GGL) and others for allegedly cheating IFCI Ltd, a government of India entity, of ₹22.6 crore between 2014 and 2018.
In its first information report (FIR) filed on Saturday, CBI said Choksi approached IFCI Ltd seeking financial assistance for its long-term working capital requirement and induced the financial institution to sanction a corporate loan of ₹25 crore in March 2016.
The IFCI Ltd, according to the FIR, relied on the representation, assurances and undertakings of GGL as well as Choksi and the value of the pledged jewels on the basis of valuation conducted by valuers - Surajrml Lallu Bhai and Company, Narendra Jhaveri, Pradip Shah and Shrenik Shah. It is alleged the loan was disbursed on the basis of security cover of two times based on the pledge of shares and pledge of gold, diamond and gold studded jewellery, for which valuation was done by the named valuers. They all have also been named as accused. HT has reviewed the FIR.
CBI said Choksi’s company defaulted in repayment of loan instalments and to recover the money, IFCI Ltd invoked the pledge and out of total 20,60,054 pledged shares, it could sell only 6,48822 shares worth ₹4.07 crore as the client ID of Choksi was suspended by National Securities Depository Ltd.
To realise the security, IFCI appointed two valuers who conducted a fresh valuation of the pledged jewels (gold, diamonds and gold studded jewellery). The fresh valuation saw a drop in the valuation of the pledged jewels by 98% in three years.
“It also came to the light that the diamonds were of low-quality laboratory prepared chemical vapour diamonds and other inferior colour stones and not real gemstones,” CBI said in the FIR.
Choksi and the company overall caused a loss of ₹22.06 crore to the IFCI Ltd, CBI said.
The fugitive businessman is residing in Antigua and Barbuda, where he fled immediately after the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam worth ₹13,578 crore came to light in 2018. He is accused of cheating PNB of ₹6,097 crore. Another investigation pertaining to ₹942 crore fraud by his firm Asmi Jewellery is also underway.
In May, Choski was found in Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean where attempts were made by the Indian government to get him deported instead of going through the tedious process of extradition from Antigua, where he is a citizen.