Free Press Journal

Defrauding the exchequer and getting away


Nirav Modi

A lot would be heard in coming weeks of the massive fraud perpetrated by diamond merchant Nirav Modi who milked the nationalised Punjab National Bank of upwards of Rs 11,000 crore and made a mockery of the erstwhile Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi government’s vigilance and fraud-detection mechanism. With the investigation being in its nascent stage, it is somewhat early for skeletons to come tumbling out of cupboards.

But there are unmistakable signals that a huge exercise is the need of the hour to nip such stupendous frauds in the bud and to institute procedures where deterrent punishment be meted out to perpetrators and their agents along the way. That Nirav Modi was at his fraudulent best right since 2011 and it was only now, more by chance than by design, that the racket was busted, speaks volumes of the shocking nexus between high-profile jewellers with the high and mighty besides the unbridled corruption of bankers at various levels. That until recently Nirav Modi, the man at the centre of the massive scam was hobnobbing with Hollywood A-listers or cutting ribbons to open his upmarket diamond stores at some of the priciest locations across the world besides doing deals with politicians and bureaucrats in the country shows the long arms of such men.

What is equally appalling is how, when investigations into his misdeeds were at an advanced stage, Nirav and his entire family and some associates were allowed to quietly get away to foreign locations undetected or unhampered to escape the law-enforcers. While the government has much to answer for, that such a thing had happened earlier in the case of erstwhile cricket czar Lalit Modi and industrialist Vijay Mallya shows the fragility of our system of governance.