PNB scam: Nirav Modi flees to Brussels

PNB and Nirav Modi

New Delhi, June 14 : Nirav Modi is on the run again, there are reports that the fugitive diamantaire is believed to have escaped to Brussels on Tuesday possibly on a Singapore passport following reports that he was in London and sought political asylum from the United Kingdom. 

According to a report in The Times of India, Modi is understood to have jumped on a plane and fled to Brussels on Tuesday or Wednesday, immediately after front-page reports in the media that he was in London seeking political asylum and that the Indian high commission was awaiting formal confirmation of his presence from the British government.

After the CBI requested Interpol to issue Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Nirav Modi, the Interpol has informed Indian investigation agencies that absconding diamond jeweller Nirav Modi travelled four times between United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong till March 31 on an Indian passport that was revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on February 24.

The agency had also issued a diffusion notice through Interpol against Modi, Choksi, and Nishal on February 15. This notice is a mechanism through which location of an absconder is shared among member countries of the Interpol.

In response to the diffusion notice, the United Kingdom has shared “movements” of Modi and other fugitives, sources said while maintaining that his specific location remains unknown.

Sources said that Britain has responded through an email to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is investigating the case of fraud against Nirav Modi since January and it had issued the diffusion notice in February against the billionaire, his wife Ami, a US citizen, brother Nishal, a Belgium national, and uncle Mehul Choksi, promoter of Gitanjali Group, for locating their whereabouts.

The RCNs were issued to help track Nirav Modi and Choksi and return them to India through official channels to face trial in the bank scam case in which the CBI recently filed two chargesheets.On Tuesday, a special court in Mumbai had issued a non-bailable warrant against the diamantaire and his family members.

Nirav Modi, who is accused in the Rs. 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case. In its chargesheets filed last month, the CBI alleged that Nirav Modi, through his companies, siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs. 6,498.20 crore using fraudulent LoUs issued from PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai. Choksi swindled Rs. 7,080.86 crore, making it possibly the biggest banking scam in the country, it alleged.

Nirav Modi was last publicly seen in a Press Information Bureau group photograph of CEOs and top brass of Indian corporate sector with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Davos in Switzerland in late January.

Nirav Modi and his wife Ami, a US citizen, brother Nishal a Belgian, and uncle Mehul Choksi, Gitanjali group’s promoter, had also fled the country in the first week of January. Nearly two weeks later PNB had approached the CBI with complaint of fraud committed by them.

The PNB was allegedly cheated by fraudulently issued of Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs).

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