Nirav Modi (center) at the launch of his Macau boutique. (Source: niravmodi.com website)

PNB Case: Who Is Nirav Modi?

Nirav Modi is a jewellery designer with 10 namesake boutiques across the world, including two in the U.S., one in Beijing, two in Hong Kong and two in India.

Modi’s website describes him as having been brought up in Antwerp, a city known as the diamond capital of the world and inhabited by a large Indian population. He’s the son and grandson of “experienced diamantaires”, it adds but provides no further detail.

Modi’s jewellery has been featured in top fashion magazines and also sighted adorning top fashion and film stars at marquee events.

Modi and his companies are allegedly at the centre of a $1.77 billion fraud detected at Punjab National Bank Ltd.

A map displaying Nirav Modi boutique locations. (Source: niravmodi.com)
A map displaying Nirav Modi boutique locations. (Source: niravmodi.com)

The Beginning

In an interview published on the niravmodi.com website he is quoted as saying “I started Firestar Diamond in 1990, which is present across the value chain from the sourcing and manufacturing of rough diamonds as well as cutting and polishing of diamonds to the designing and manufacturing of fine jewellery. Firestar provided me the expertise to create the brand “NIRAV MODI.”

A 2016 article in Mint puts his age at 45 and suggests he dropped out of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania to turn entrepreneur. The article says he intends to have 100 NIRAV MODI stores across the world by 2025.

A more recent interview (2017) published on a retail industry website quotes him as saying, “Over the next 5 years, we are looking at over 20 new boutiques across the globe”.

The Firestar Diamond International Private Ltd. website claims the company was founded in 1999 as a loose diamond supplier. It describes the business as vertically integrated and involved in sourcing rough diamonds, cutting and polishing them and designing, manufacturing and retailing diamond jewelry. It boasts of a global presence with offices in Mumbai, Surat, New York, Chicago, Johannesburg, Antwerp, Yerevan, Dubai, and Hong Kong.

The Firestar website mentions the Nirav Modi Foundation that “endeavours to empower youth and families from underprivileged communities to become self-sustainable...”. It lists Nirav Modi, Ami Modi and Tushar Agarwal as trustees.