While jewellery designer Nirav Modi finds himself in the eye of the storm with the Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank fraud, his partners in crime are feeling the heat too. CBI sleuths raided the residence of Mehul Chinubhai Choksi, chairman and managing director of Gitanjali Gems, in connection with the money laundering case.
Choksi, Modi's maternal uncle and his mentor in jewellery trade, was named in the FIR filed by PNB earlier this month with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly cheating Rs 280.70 crore. Others named in the FIR were Modi's brother Nishal and wife Ami.
Meanwhile, Bombay Stock Exchange has sought clarification from Gitanjali Gems on Thursday after their name surfaced in the money laundering case. The jewellery retailer is yet to respond to these notices.
Earlier this month, Gitanjali Group had issued a statement, saying that its chairman and managing director is being 'falsely implicated' in the cheating case. This was after a FIR was filed by CBI accusing Choksi and three others of cheating PNB of Rs 280 crore. The company said that it will take legal steps to have its Choksi's name omitted from the FIR.
The accused, including Nirav Modi, his brother and Choksi, were partners in Diamond R US, Stellar Diamonds and Solar Exports and were targeted by the central investigating agency for allegedly cheating PNB. To counter this, Gitanjali Group mentioned that Choksi had retired as a partner from Diamond R US back in 1999 and had no dealings with the other two companies. He was not involved with Modi and his associates after stepping down as a partner, the company had mentioned in a regulatory filing.
Choksi joined jewellery business in 1975 when he took the reins of Gitanjali from his father. He showed the ropes of diamond trade to Nirav Modi during a decade-long apprenticeship. Following this, Modi went on to establish his own business.
Modi was booked by the CBI for cheating after PNB sent a complaint to it alleging that the jewellery firm owner, his brother, wife and Choksi entered into a criminal conspiracy with the officials of the bank and cheated it, causing "wrongful loss".