Employees of Nirav Modi’s firms in Surat SEZ protest, demand payment of salary
The employees of diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s firms, located in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Surat, staged a protest on Thursday, demanding the payment of their salaries.
The firms were unable to pay them after their bank accounts were frozen by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI in connection with the alleged Rs 11,400-crore scam at the Punjab National Bank (PNB), they claimed.
“Some 700 employees of two of Nirav Modi’s firms in the SEZ have lost their jobs as the management has locked the units and asked us to search for jobs elsewhere. We are in a big trouble. We have not been given any assurance about the payment of our outstanding salaries,” Deepak Ingle, an employee, said.
A week ago, ED officials had conducted raids at Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd and Firestar International Pvt Ltd and seized a stock worth over Rs 900 crore. Both these units were part of Nirav Modi’s empire, the ED officials had said.
“The management has told us they cannot pay the outstanding salaries for January and February as all the bank accounts have been frozen by the ED and the CBI. We want the government to think about us and un-freeze at least one account to facilitate the payment of our salaries,” Ingle said.
The ED had first registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Modi, his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi and others on February 14, based on a CBI FIR that was lodged following a complaint from the PNB.
Modi (46) was booked by the CBI, along with his wife, brother and Choksi, on January 31 for allegedly cheating the state-run bank to the tune of Rs 280 crore. The bank had subsequently sent two more complaints to the CBI, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 11,400 crore.