PNB fraud: Nirav Modi gives ‘repay’ plan, I-T issues blue corner notice
Under-fire diamond merchant Nirav Modi has given a ‘concrete proposal’ to Punjab National Bank (PNB) offering it jewellery worth Rs 2,000 crore, current account deposits amounting to Rs 200 crore and immoveable properties of Rs 50 crore to settle of his liabilities even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continued its probe, and arrested the bank’s chief internal auditor on Wednesday.
Modi wrote a letter to PNB on February 26, a source familiar with the matter said, saying the communication was in response to the bank’s letter asking to provide an implementable and concrete plan to return his dues.
Modi’s offer comes at a time when the Bureau of Immigration issued a Blue Corner Notice against him and his uncle Mehul Choksi on Wednesday in connection with the Rs 12,600-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
The notice was issued on the request of the Income Tax department.
PNB has accused Modi and Choksi (who owns Gitanjali Jewels) of committing a fraud of more than Rs 12,600 crore in the issuance of Letters of Understanding and foreign letters of credit from the Brady House branch between 2011 and 2017.
A Blue Corner notice is issued to locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation, and, in this case, will be valid for a year starting February 22 at all ports of embarkation.
Meanwhile, the I-T department attached four more properties of the Nirav Modi group, including a Rs 13 crore farm house in Alibaug – around 100 km south of Mumbai – and a 5.24MW solar power plant spread over 135 acres of land in Ahmednagar worth Rs 70 crore, as per official records. Ahmednagar is around 270km east of Mumbai. The department also attached 34 more bank accounts and fixed deposits of the Gitanjali Group with a balance of Rs 1.45 crore.
The CBI also arrested PNB’s chief auditor MK Sharma, a chief manager-ranked official. CBI officials said he was responsible for auditing the practices of the Brady House branch.
According to a person familiar with the content of Modi’s letter, “Modi has told the bank that his intention was to resolve the matter and ensure justice is served to all.” Modi is believed to have told the bank that the seizure of his assets and the crackdown against him have brought company operations to a standstill.
A person familiar with the development said, “He has told the bank to take charge of his companies under a relevant Act and operate them in order to ensure that employee dues are cleared. The ED-CBI investigation and action are eroding the value of his companies.”
The CBI has asked Modi to return to India and join the investigation. “He had written to us saying he cannot appear in front of our investigators,” a CBI officer said.