About 40 per cent of the money lost by banks in alleged frauds perpetrated by fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya has been recovered so far, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said after the sale of attached shares worth over Rs 5,800 crore on Wednesday.
According to the agency, the latest sale proceeds take the total value of recovery to Rs 9,041.5 crore, or 40 per cent of the over Rs 22,000 crore allegedly defrauded by the trio.
Commenting on the development, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, "Fugitives & economic offenders will be actively pursued; their properties attached & dues recovered." The three, who fled overseas as probe against them gathered pace, are being investigated by central investigative agencies such as the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after they were alleged to have cheated banks, and these frauds have been categorised as among the country's biggest criminal loan heist till date.
The central agency gave the low-down on these two cases -- the estimated Rs 13,000 crore fraud allegedly carried out by diamond trader Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others in the Brady House branch of PNB in Mumbai and the about Rs 9,000 crore Kingfisher Airlines fraud triggered by Mallya -- in a statement issued here.
It said the three "defrauded" public sector banks by siphoning off the funds through their companies which resulted in total loss of over Rs 22,000 crore (Rs 22,585.83 crore in definite numbers) to a clutch of banks.
Asked for a comment, Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal told PTI, "The ED has indeed attached assets much more than the money due to the banks." The ED, empowered to probe such cases under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), went on to attach and seize total assets worth Rs 18,170.02 crore in these two cases that included Rs 969 crore worth of properties "located" abroad.
"The quantum of the attached and seized assets represent 80.45 per cent of the total bank loss of Rs 22,585.83 crore," the ED said.
On Wednesday, out of these attached assets, the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) on behalf of an SBI-led consortium that lent money to Mallya sold fresh shares worth Rs 5,824.50 crore of United Breweries Limited (UBL), the agency said.
The DRT action came after the ED transferred the shares worth about Rs 6,624 crore of UBL attached by it to the SBI-led consortium on the directions of a special PMLA court that is hearing these cases in Mumbai.
"Further realisation of Rs 800 crore by sale of these shares is expected by June 25," it added.
The banks have earlier "recovered" Rs 1,357 crore by a similar sale of shares in the case against Mallya and his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, the ED said.
Another Rs 1,060 crore worth of assets were "restituted" to the banks earlier in the probe against Nirav Modi, they said.
As on date, the ED said, assets worth Rs 9,041.5 crore, "representing 40 per cent of the total loss to the banks, have been handed over to public sector banks." "Thus, the banks shall be realising total amount of Rs 9,041.5 crore through sale of a part of assets attached/seized by ED under the PMLA," it said.
In addition, official sources said, Rs 329.67 crore has been realised in the government exchequer after Modi's assets were confiscated in July last year after the 50-year-old diamantaire was declared a fugitive economic offender by a special court in Mumbai.
Vijay Mallya and Kingfisher airlines case
Mallya is accused of fraud and money laundering allegedly amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore, which involved his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. SBI has the highest exposure of Rs 1,600 crore out of original loan of Rs 6,900 crore to the defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Other banks that have exposure to the airline include Punjab National Bank (Rs 800 crore) and IDBI Bank (Rs 800 crore), Bank of India (Rs 650 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 550 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 410 crore).
Last year, Mallya offered to pay back 100 per cent of "public money" to various Indian banks and urged the government to accept his offer, days ahead of a UK court's decision on his plea not to extradite him to India. The 65-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss has been on bail in the UK on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April 2019.
Mallya's extradition was ordered by former Britain Home Secretary Sajid Javid, in February 2019, after a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering was upheld by the UK courts, including on appeals. He remains on bail in Britain while a confidential legal matter, believed to be related to an asylum application, is resolved.
Noting that banks have suffered losses, the PMLA Court said it was impossible to conclude the exact "quantifiable loss" at this stage. The court, however, said that the banks' claim of losses of over Rs 6,200 crore was not "imaginary". This was the second such order passed by Special Judge JC Jagadale within 10 days. On May 24, the court had ordered the release of properties worth Rs 4,234.84 crore, while on Tuesday it ordered release of properties worth Rs 1,411.70 crore. Mallya's legal team had challenged the jurisdiction of the PMLA court.
Nirav Modi, uncle Mehul Choksi and the PNB scam
Fugitive diamond marchent Nirav Modi is wanted in India in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, has lost the first stage of his extradition appeal in the UK High Court. An official of the high court confirmed that the permission to appeal was "rejected on paper" on Tuesday.
The latest rejection leaves Nirav Modi with one chance to make his case at a brief oral hearing in the high court with a renewed "leave to appeal" application for a judge to determine if it can proceed to a full appeal hearing.
Nirav Modi has five business days to apply for such an oral consideration, giving him time until next week.
The appeal was filed before a high court judge for a decision "on the papers" submitted for the appeal to determine if there are any grounds for an appeal against the Home Secretary's decision or the Westminster Magistrates Court's February ruling in favour of Nirav Modi's extradition to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering.
Nirav Modi's extradition to India was ordered on April 16 this year by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case. He has been lodged in a prison in London since his arrest in March 2019.
On February 25 this year, a UK court had allowed the extradition of Nirav Modi to India.
Nirav Modi is facing probe by the CBI for a large-scale fraud upon PNB through fraudulently obtaining LoUs or loan agreements. He is also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case related to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
He also faces two additional charges of "causing disappearance of evidence" and "intimidating witnesses" or "criminal intimidation to cause death", which were added on to the CBI case.
The ED has attached several assets of Nirav Modi running into crores of rupees in connection with the case.
Nirav Modi's uncle, Mehul Choksi of Geetanjali group, is also being probed in connection with the case.
(With inputs from Agencies)