PNB Fraud: Nirav Modi’s Sister Turns Approver; Will Help Enforcement Directorate Unearth Rs 579-Crore Assets
Signage for Punjab National Bank (PNB) is displayed outside a branch in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

PNB Fraud: Nirav Modi’s Sister Turns Approver; Will Help Enforcement Directorate Unearth Rs 579-Crore Assets

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Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's sister and brother-in-law have "turned approvers" in the over $2 billion PNB fraud case against him and they will help the Enforcement Directorate confiscate assets worth Rs 579 crore, including Swiss bank deposits, the agency said on Thursday.

Forty-nine-year-old Nirav Modi, who is currently lodged in a London jail, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate in the Punjab National Bank money laundering case since 2018.

The diamond merchant's younger sister Purvi Modi (47) is a Belgian national while her husband Maiank Mehta is a British citizen. They are stated to be based abroad and have never joined the probe.

The ED had also got an Interpol global arrest warrant notified against Purvi Modi in 2018.

The couple was arraigned as accused in the alleged criminal bank fraud case where multiple charge sheets have been filed by the ED and also the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"Nirav Modi's sister Purvi Deepak Modi alias Purvi Mehta and her husband Maiank Mehta filed an application before a special PMLA (Prevention of Money-Laundering Act) court in Mumbai for allowing them to seek pardon under sections 306 and 307 of the CrPC and undertook to make true and full disclosure of the circumstances and events without concealing any evidence and provide complete documents," the ED said in a statement.

"Purvi Modi has also agreed to assist in realising and repatriating various assets in India and abroad totalling to Rs 579 crore," it said.

The grant of tender of pardon and according status of approver in this case by the Mumbai court to the couple early this week was "on condition of making full and true disclosure", according to the ED statement.

It said the assets in the name of Purvi Modi or her companies that are expected to be confiscated with her help include a flat worth Rs 19.5 crore near Breach Candy on the Bhulabhai Desai Road in Mumbai, two Swiss bank account deposits worth Rs 168.08 crore and Rs 108.23 crore and bank deposits worth Rs 1.96 crore kept in a Syndicate Bank branch at Nariman Point in Mumbai.

Two flats in the Central Park south area of New York (in the name of a trust) worth Rs 36.52 crore and Rs 182.82 crore, and a Rs 62.1 crore flat at Marylebone Road in London are also among the assets to be confiscated, the statement said.

In her application made to the court for pardon, Purvi Modi had said that she was not a prime accused and has been attributed only a limited role by the investigating agency.

She said that she had fully cooperated with the ED in this investigation by providing all requisite information and documents.

Her plea said that on account of being Nirav Modi's sister, she was in a unique position to provide "substantial and important evidence, information, proof, and documents and access to bank accounts, assets, companies and entities that are relevant to Nirav Modi and his actions/dealings".

The agency said its investigation found that Purvi Modi "has more than a dozen bank accounts and has ownership of various companies or Trusts abroad."

"Vide their statements and their submissions before the adjudicating authority (of the PMLA), Purvi Modi and Maiank Mehta have categorically stated that all the companies, properties and accounts mentioned in the prosecution complaints (except Pavillion Point Corporation) belongs to Nirav Modi," the ED said.

She gave her willingness to offer all cooperation to "repatriate the assets to India", it said.

"Both the accused stated that the funds channelised through their accounts belonged to Nirav Modi and on Nirav Modi's insistence," the ED alleged.

"The court further directed that the applicant-accused (couple) shall appear before the court by returning to India for which the complainant-prosecution shall facilitate the approach of accused at the earliest and shall take suitable steps accordingly," the agency said.

Nirav Modi and Choksi, both prime accused in the case, along with others are being probed by the ED on money laundering charges for allegedly perpetrating an over $2 billion (more than Rs 13,000 crore) bank fraud in connivance with bank officials and by issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking at the Brady House PNB branch in Mumbai.

Nirav Modi, declareda fugitive economic offender by a Mumbai PMLA court in December 2019, is presently lodged in a London jail after his arrest there in 2019 and the legal process to extradite him to India on money laundering charges is currently on.

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