In a money laundering case concerning Punjab National Bank (PNB), a special court on Wednesday permitted prime accused and fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi’s 39 properties including Rhythm House and overseas accounts totally worth around Rs. 500 crores to be confiscated under the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act.
A plea was made by the Enforcement Directorate for the confiscation of Rhythm House - an iconic building located in the heart of South Mumbai, valuables seized from the businessman’s Alibag bungalow, 22 cars, consignments seized by agencies when they were in transit and monies parked in various overseas accounts.
This is the second time his assets have been allowed to be confiscated under the Act by a court order. The businessman had been declared an FEO in December 2019 under the then-new law which enabled confiscation of such a fugitive offender’s assets after he was declared an FEO by a competent court. The confiscation would be the next step after such a declaration, but not one that followed by virtue of the declaration itself. A plea would have to be made for the confiscation of assets, as had been made in this instance. The properties that were sought to be confiscated were first attached by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
As per the agency’s case, in the multi-crore fraud, Modi cheated the public sector bank through the issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs). These were allegedly issued in a fraudulent manner by a Mumbai branch of the bank to a group of companies belonging to Nirav Modi since March 2011, till the case came to light.