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PNB fraud: CBI seizes Nirav Modi's Rolls Royce; ED asks Sebi to freeze Mehul Choksi's shares     February 22, 2018

Continuing its crackdown in the Nirav Modi fraud case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday seized Nirav Modi's collection of 9 luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce Ghost and 2 Mercedes Benz GL 350 CDIs. The agency had earlier sealed a sea-facing property of beleaguered celebrity jeweller Nirav Modi in Alibaug near Mumbai.

The 1.5 acre farm house located in tony Alibaug neighbourhood was reportedly purchased by Modi in 2004 for Rs 32 crore. Modi hosted lavish parties for his uber rich clientele to showcase his precious jewellery collection. Modi's farmhouses is in the immediate vicinity of who's who of the cinema and the business world.

Modi expansive farm house is located about 100 km by road from Mumbai in Raigad district also has a 12,000 sq ft bungalow with five bedrooms, a large swimming pool, a movie theatre and a library, they said. On his website, the absconding jeweller calls himself a 'haut diamantaire'.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has asked Sebi to freeze Mehil Choksi's shares in Gitanjali Gems. But what comes as a dampener for the investigative agencies is the fact that almost 78.56 per cent of the promoters' shares in Gitanjali Gems were pledged in December. At the end of quarter ending December 2017, Mehul Choksi held a 27.76 per cent shares of Gitanjali Gems valued now at Rs 94 crore.

The CBI on Wednesday presented six persons arrested before special a CBI court in Mumbai which remanded them in custody till March 5. Those arrested include Vipul Ambani, president (finance) of Fire Star Diamond, executive assistant Kavita Mankikar and senior executive Arjun Patil (all of Modi's companies).

Kapil Khandelwal, CFO of Nakshatra group and Gitanjali group, and Niten Shahi, manager of Gitanjali group were also arrested by the agency.

From Punjab National Bank, the CBI took into custody Rajesh Jindal, General Manager credit, at present posted at the bank's head office in New Delhi. Jindal, who was the head of the Brady House, Mumbai, branch of the bank during 2009-11, was taken into custody last night, they said.

It is alleged that the issuance of Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) to Nirav Modi group firms without sanctioned limits started during his tenure.

The Finance Ministry will soon call a meeting of top officials of scam-hit Punjab National Bank and other lenders to amicably resolve the issues concerning payment liabilities of Rs 11,400 crore arising from the alleged fraud, sources said.

India's second largest bank PNB has said it will honour all its bonafide commitments after the scam surfaced involving allegedly fraudulent use of Letter of Undertakings (LOUs) by jeweller Nirav Modi and his associates.

The government is of the view that the issue is between PNB and other public sector banks and it should be resolved amicably as soon as possible, sources said.

Keeping this in mind, the Department of Financial Services would soon call a meeting of top officials of all the banks involved in the matter, sources added.

The PNB fraud pertains to issuance of fake Letters of Understanding (LoUs) to companies associated with billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi by errant PNB employees, which enabled these companies to get buyers credit from international branches of other Indian lenders.

Banks said to be directly or indirectly affected by the scam include SBI, Allahabad Bank and Union Bank of India.

with PTI inputs


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