Mumbai: The CBI has arrested Vipul Ambani, the son of Dhirubhai Ambani’s younger brother Natubhai Ambani, and four other officials belonging to the Gitanjali Group, Diamond R, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports in connection with the PNB scam.
Vipul was the Chief Financial and Operating Officer (CFO) of Firestar Diamond, a flagship company of Nirav Modi, since 2014. Vipul was earlier Executive Assistant to the Managing Director of Reliance Industries and until 1993 had worked in the various group companies. Modi’s brother, Neeshal, is married to Isheta Salgaonkar, the niece of Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani.
The CBI has also arrested Kavita Mankikar, executive assistant and authorised signatory of Diamond R, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports – the three firms owned by jeweller Modi. Arjun Patil, a senior executive at Firestar group, Kapil Khandelwal, CFO of Nak-shatra group, and Niten Shahi, manager of the Gitanjali group, have also been arrested.
The wanted accused Mehul Choksi is the Chairman and Managing Director of Gitanjali Gems Limited. The investigations have revealed that the beneficiaries of the fraud — Nirav, his wife Ami, his brother Neeshal and partner Mehul – were all partners in the firm. During investigations, the arrested accused Gokunath Shetty, a retired Deputy Manager of Punjab National bank, Manoj Hanumant Kharat, a single window operator at the bank, and Hemant Dahyalal Bhatt, an authorised signatory of Modi’s firms, revealed to the CBI officers the modus operandi of the scam.
They were all interrogated about the modalities for issuing Letter of Understanding to the Modi group and his associates, the reason why the LOUs were not entered into the CBS system of the PNB, and whether this was within the financial powers of Shetty; also under the scanner is the role of other senior officers of PNB. Kharat had acted upon Shetty’s directions in making and verifying SWIFT messages before the latter authorised and transmitted them in 2017. Kharat admitted that it was happening regularly and many other officers whose names are yet to be revealed were involved in the scam.