Punjab National Bank fraud: Nirav Modi gets one month to file reply to ED plea seeking to declare him ‘fugitive’

A special court Tuesday directed diamantaire Nirav Modi, a key accused in the multi-billion PNB fraud case, to file his reply on 29 October to an Enforcement Directorate (ED) plea seeking to declare him a “fugitive” under a new law.

Special judge MS Azmi, presiding over the court set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), had on 25 July issued summons to Nirav Modi, seeking his reply to the application filed by the ED.

The financial crime probe agency, in the plea, had sought direction to declare the diamond jeweller a “fugitive” under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

His lawyers sought time to file the reply to the ED’s plea. The judge fixed 29 October for next hearing of the matter and asked him to file his reply on that date.

The court had also issued a notice of appearance under the fugitive law against Nirav Modi’s uncle and co-accused in the case, Mehul Choksi, and had asked him to appear before it on 26 September.

The agency had moved the court seeking to declare the diamond traders as “fugitive economic offenders” and nod to confiscate their assets worth Rs 3,500 crore.

The probe agency, empowered to enforce the new law enacted by the NDA government to curb big economic crimes and check the escape of perpetrators from India, had filed two separate applications against Nirav Modi and Choksi.

The agency seeks to confiscate their assets, both movable and immovable, including those located in the UK and the UAE.

The move has been made on the basis of the two PMLA charge sheets filed by the agency against the designer diamond jewellers on charges of alleged money laundering.

Nirav Modi and Choksi are being investigated by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after it was detected that they allegedly cheated PNB (Punjab National Bank) of more than Rs 13,400 crore with the purported involvement of a few of its employees.

The scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January this year, after which PNB officials reported it to the probe agencies.

Two criminal complaints were filed by the ED in these instances after taking cognisance of CBI FIRs.

Non-bailable warrants were issued against Nirav Modi and Choksi. Also, an Interpol ‘red corner’ arrest warrant has been issued against Nirav Modi on the ED’s request.

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