The Swiss authorities have dealt a major blow to fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi by freezing his four bank accounts on the request of the Enforcement Directorate. These four accounts, which had total assets worth Rs 283.16 crore, were in the names of Nirav Modi and his sister Purvi Modi.
"The request was made on the ground that money was deposited in these bank accounts out of illegal siphoned off funds from Indian banks and the same has represented proceeds of crime," the ED said in a circular. The agency said Nirav Modi's account had deposits worth $3,74,11,596, while his sister Purvi Modi's Swiss account had GBP (British pound) 27,38,136. The amount totals around Rs 283.16 crore, the agency said. Nirav Modi's sister is one of the accused in the Rs 13,700-crore Punjab National Bank scam.
Besides Nirav Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, the Interpol had issued a red-corner notice (RCN) against Purvi Modi, who's a Belgian national, last year. Other names mentioned in the list were Nirav Modi's father, brother Neeshal Modi, brother-in-law Mayank Mehta. They were booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, for laundering money in the PNB fraud case.
A probe by a US court had revealed that Purvi Modi handled most of the dirty money belonging to Nirav Modi who set up two trusts and many shell companies to launder money. It said she handled the business of his Hong Kong holding company, Firestar Holdings Limited (FHL), to make investments in Europe and the United States. A red-corner notice is an international warrant, which is issued for the arrest of a suspect. After the issuance of an RCN, the Interpol asks its 192-member countries to find out the person and arrest him/her for further processes like extradition or deportation.
Meanwhile, the judicial custody of Nirav Modi, who is lodged in the London jail, will get over today. The UK court had earlier rejected four bail pleas of the fugitive Indian businessman after India sought his extradition and told the court that he might abscond from the country. In the previous hearing, the UK court had asked the Indian government to confirm where he would be lodged if extradited to India. During a hearing scheduled today, the court could set aside a date for his extradition trial. Modi was arrested by Scotland Yard officers in central London on March 19.
Edited by Manoj Sharma