New Delhi: Owner of Gitanjali Gems, Mehul Choksi, expressed his “helplessness” in a letter to his employees, stating that he would be unable to clear their dues in lieu of the ongoing probe in the 1.77 billion dollar Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.
Choksi, in a communication to over 3,500 employees, said it would be “very tough” to clear dues of his employees or pay future salaries, as investigative agencies had seized his bank accounts and other properties, adding that the manner of investigation was starting to create havoc, and were hell bent on stopping the operations.
Highlighting the “situation of fear and injustice” created against him and the company, Choksi, in his letter issued by his advocate, Sanjay Abbott, suggested to employees that in view of the uncertainty looming over payment of dues, termination of office operations, and “unfair investigation”, they begin scouting for alternate career options.
The top businessman also clarified that laptops, mobile phones issued by the organisation can remain with employees until dues were cleared, adding that relieving letters and experience certificates would be issued to them when necessary.
Choksi also maintained his stance of being falsely accused of defrauding PNB, and assured that employee dues would be cleared once justice is served and the situation returns to normalcy. He also expressed his fear of safety for himself and his family on account of the ongoing “unfair treatment, investigation, media frenzy and political statements”, and alleged that the probe was being done to create a fear psychosis in the minds of employees. For the unversed, PNB detected a 1.77 billion dollar (Rs 11,400) scam earlier this month, in which noted jewellery designer Nirav Modi acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking from one of its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders.
Choksi, Modi’s uncle, is also being probed for his involvement in the fraud. PNB lodged two financial fraud complaints of Rs 11400 crore and Rs 280 crore against Nirav Modi, his family members and the owner of Gitanjali Gems. After the case was registered, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have swung into action. On Thursday, the Income Tax (IT) Department attached the special economic zone (SEZ) property of Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group in Hyderabad, sources at the department said. As per the assessee’s own valuation, the property is worth about Rs 1200 crore. Meanwhile, the ED on Friday froze assets of Nirav Modi worth Rs. 43.86 crore.