As the dust is still settling down on the alleged scam of Rs 11,400 crore perpetrated by diamond merchant and jeweller Nirav Modi, the lifestyle of his family is now under the scanner. How Modi and his wife Ami Modi became the high profile socialites is now talk of the town and how Nirav Modi amassed this huge wealth is also raising questions.
The couple maintains a home at Samudra Mahal, Worli, and do most of their entertaining there. They began to gain social prominence in the noughties. In his media interviews, Nirav Modi refrained from talking about his family, preferring to focus on his brand. “You will never see us as a family in any picture or in any photo shoots. We remain very private. Under the brand Nirav Modi, I understand that I must have a public profile but that is very different from my personal life. It is very easy to keep the two separate,” he once told Verve magazine.
But, behind the scenes, Ami was building a circle of influential friends: Radhika and Anshuman Ruia of Essar, Gauri and Sandeep Tandon of Isharya, an especial closeness with Preeti and Raj Shroff who are Sushil Kumar Shinde’s daughter and son-in-law. Holding the key to this charmed group were Elina and Nikhil Meswani, reported Mumbai Mirror.
Elina and Ami quickly became friends and developed a good rapport and Ami became engrossed in high lifestyle and soon were seen in parties and events.
With Nirav Modi becoming rich and powerful, this typically meant vacationing abroad, flying First Class, four to five times a year, wearing the best brands and dining in the finest of restaurants. Before this, the Modis were rather under the radar, which is the won’t of wealthy Palanpuri Jains. Nirav Modi’s rise to prominence also coincided with the fall of his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, who owned brands like Gitanjali and Gili, and who often defaulted on payments to his high-profile models.
Nirav and Ami have three children- one son, aged 17, and two daughters, aged 15 and 9 — were until last year enrolled at the Dhirubhai Ambani School. During the school’s annual day year on year, Ami could be spotted in the extended family and friends’ enclosure.
“But last year Ami pulled the children out of school, and moved them to New York, telling her friends that her father was unwell,” says a friend of Ami and Elina’s. It is now being speculated that perhaps she and her husband had anticipated trouble.
The Meswani connection also helped Nirav Modi work with ladies from other prominent families. Shobhaa and Dilip De’s daughter worked with him for some time as did Shaina NC’s sister-in-law Aparna Chudasama.
Nirav also shares close relations with businessman Anil Ambani and also has family relations. The Modis’ Ambani connection runs to business as well. Nirav Modi’s chief financial officer is Vipul Ambani. Vipul is the son of Dhirubhai’s youngest brother Natubhai Ambani. Vipul is said to have joined Modi two or three years back.
In private, several of Nirav and Ami’s friends are expressing shock and sadness at the mess they are in. “We never thought things would turn out to be this bad,” they echo, “They really are a very nice couple.”
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