Hong Kong: Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s collection of gems and diamonds is a stuff of folklore, now. Just when most of us had given up on setting sights on his collection, comes the news that the Enforcement Directorate has laid hands on his iciest diamonds and pearls worth Rs 1,350 crores.
Not just that, the agency has successfully funnelled back to India the booty from Hong Kong -- 108 packages of jewellery and gems belonging to firms controlled by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. According to wire agency PTI and NDTV’s news portal, the two were planning to dispatch these consignments to Dubai from Hong Kong in 2018, after they came on the radar of the investigating agencies.
Out of the 108 consignments that have landed at Mumbai, 32 belong to overseas entities "controlled" by Modi and the rest are offerings of Mehul Choksi’s firms. Both the businessmen are being probed by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with an over USD 2 billion alleged bank fraud at a PNB branch in Mumbai. The consignment of precious stones is likely to be officially ‘attached’ in the PNB loan scam case after court formalities are over.
Nirav, 48, and Mehul, 60, are accused in a scam involving fake guarantees in the name of State-run PNB to secure overseas loans. Both fled India in 2018, before the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) began its investigations. Nirav was arrested last year in London and is contesting the extradition proceedings to India. In a desperate bid to recover some of the amount the diamond merchant owes to banks, agencies have auctioned much of his assets, including a Rolls Royce car, paintings of famous artists MF Hussain and Amrita Shergill, designer handbags and other luxury items.