New Delhi, Feb 20: Blaming Punjab National Bank for “destroying” his brand, celebrity jewellery designer Nirav Modi said the bank has closed the doors to repay the debt.
According to a report in The Indian Express citing news agency PTI, Modi who is facing multi-pronged probe, wrote a letter to the bank’s management on February 15/16, blaming the bank for damaging his business and saying that his dues were much less than what the state-owned lender claimed.
“In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offer (on February 13, a day before the public announcement, and on 15) your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all the dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts,” he asserted.
PNB detected Rs 11,400 crore fraud at its Brady House branch in Mumbai on February 14, named the firms owned by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group, and some other diamond and jewellery merchants as suspects.
Following the complaint by the bank, central government agencies, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, registered cases against businessman Nirav Modi, his wife Ami, and Choksi, besides others.
Diamantaire left the country Modi along with his family in the first week of January, before the alleged scam came into the limelight.
In a letter to PNB, the businessman pegged the money his firms owe to the bank under Rs 5,000 crore. “The erroneously cited liability resulted in a media frenzy which led to immediate search and seizure of operations, and which in turn resulted in Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International effectively ceasing to be going-concerns. This thereby jeopardised our ability to discharge the dues of the group to the banks,” he wrote.
On the over Rs 11,000-crore loss claimed by the public lender in the FIR, Modi said, “As you are aware, this is entirely incorrect and the liability of the Nirav Modi Group is substantially less. Even after your complaint was filed, in good faith I wrote to you saying please sell/allow me to sell Firestar Group, or their valuable assets, and recover the dues not just from Firestar Group, but also from the three firms.”
Modi concluded the letter urging the bank to permit him to pay the salaries to 2,200 employees from the balance lying in the current accounts of his companies.
“Whatever may be the consequences I may face for my actions, the haste was, in my humble submission, unwarranted,” he said.