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US court issues summons to Nirav Modi, aides

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July 27, 2018 20:44


A United States court on Friday issued summons to diamantaire Nirav Modi and his aides at the heart of the multi-billion Punjab National Bank scam.

Sources say that the order also authorises gathering of documents from Nirav Modi and others.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate has labeled chairman of Gitanjali Group, Mehul Choksi as the 'mastermind' behind the PNB fraud case, calling it a 'huge economic scam brewing since 2015'.

In a charge sheet filed in a Mumbai court on June 28, charges of money laundering under Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were lodged by the ED against Choksi.

The ED stated that three Indian entities, Gitanjali Gems, Gili India and Nakshatra were involved in obtaining a total of 376 illegal Letters of Undertakings (LOUs), amounting to a total of Rs 5822.02 crore from 2015 to 2017.

The ED claimed in the charge sheet that the Vice President of the Gitanjali Group, Vipul Chitalia, had pinned the entirety of the blame on Choksi in his statement to the ED.

Chitalia also said that the valuation of goods, which were declared at Rs 3840 crore but were actually worth Rs 103.06 crore, was decided by Choksi without any physical verification of the goods.

Labeling Choksi as the 'mastermid' behind the behemoth scam, the ED said that Choksi designed the entire scheme of the fraud, along with the movement of the money, under the garb of import and export.

The ED also mentioned that Choksi had adopted another modus operandi to defraud the banks, which was revealed upon the scrutiny of the books of accounts of the Gitanjali Group of Companies.

According to the ED, the exports from Gitanjali Gems and Gitanjali Export Corporation were made to two Hong Kong based companies, M/s Trans Exim and M/s Tradewell Enterprises.

However, the payments for the exports were made by Hong Kong-based M/s 4C's Diamond Distributors and M/s Shanyao Gong Si Ltd, resulting in an under reporting of actual exports to the beneficiaries of the LOUs and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs) that were obtained by Choksi and his aides, whereas over-reporting of exports to M/s Trans Exim and M/s Tradewell Enterprises.

The ED stated that Choksi adopted this modus operandi to manipulate transactions to avoid getting detected by banks or auditors, project inflated sales and turnover, to create phony debtors in the books of Gitanjali Gems to enhance credit limits, among other objectives.

Earlier today, Choksi issued a statement, saying that he had lawfully applied for citizenship in Antigua to expand his business and to obtain visa-free travel to 130 countries.

This came two days after the Central Bureau of Investigation wrote to Antiguan authorities demanding details about him.

The ED had initiated the money laundering case against Choksi in February, on the basis of an FIR filed by the CBI.

The PNB had detected the multi-crore scam earlier this year wherein Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of $2 billion, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.   -- ANI

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