Nirav’s sister, brother-in-law turn approvers in PNB case
Diamantaire Nirav Modi’s younger sister Purvi Mehta, who is a Belgian citizen, and her husband Maiank Mehta, a British citizen, will testify against the fugitive businessman in court after being declared approvers in the case on Monday. Modi is the prime accused in a ₹13,500-crore fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The Mehtas had approached the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court through their lawyers in November, seeking a pardon and requesting that they be enlisted as approvers in the cases against Modi.
Special judge VC Barde allowed the plea and directed the investigating agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), to facilitate their arrival in India so they can appear before court and make a statement.
The ED has claimed that 49-year-old Modi, who is lodged in London’s Wandsworth jail and is the subject of two extradition requests (by the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED), had diverted around ₹1,201.18 crore ($175.1 million) through his sister Purvi. The agency ,in its charge sheet, claimed that Purvi was an active participant in the generation of proceeds of crime and in money laundering.
It claimed that Purvi was a director in Dubai- and Hong Kong-based companies that received funds obtained by Modi through fraudulent means. Purvi has maintained that she had no knowledge of these transactions. In a reply to the designated court hearing a plea filed by ED for confiscation of Modi’s properties, she claimed that she had nothing to do with the alleged proceeds of crime.
Maiank and Purvi, in separate applications seeking a pardon, said they were not prime accused and had only a limited role to play in the cases against Modi.
They submitted that as close relatives of Modi, they are in “a unique position to be able to provide substantial and important evidence, information, proof, and documents relevant to Nirav Modi and his actions/dealings. Such information will significantly aid the further investigation of ED and will prove critical to conclusively establish the facts against Nirav Modi and other key accused persons”.
Their lawyer, Amit Desai, contended that because of Modi’s alleged criminal activities, their personal and professional lives had been brought to a standstill and they had distanced themselves from the diamond trader.
“The applicant undertakes to be examined as a witness in this court and submits that he/she will make true and full disclosure of the whole of the circumstances and events as known to him/her, without concealing any evidence and will provide complete information regarding the same, which is true according to him/her and within his/her knowledge,’ they claimed in their applications.
They pleaded that they were ready to give statements as witnesses over a video conference or any other electronic means convenient at such time and in such manner as directed by the court.
ED, in its reply, submitted: “The applicant as an approver can help ED to prosecute the mastermind, to identify and attach more proceeds of crime in India and abroad, to repatriate the proceeds of crime to India, to obtain more evidence against the mastermind, etc”