The special court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Wednesday issued notices to jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi following the Enforcement Directorate’s demand to confiscate their properties under the new fugitive economic offender law.
The court has granted Modi and Choksi six weeks (until September 26) to appear before it, failing which both of them would be declared fugitive offenders and have their properties confiscated.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier this month made two applications to the special court to confiscate the duo’s properties in India, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 which aims to impound and sell assets of alleged fugitives.
The ordinance is aimed at deterring economic offenders from evading the process of law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts. The law seeks to expedite recovery of losses incurred by banks and other entities by confiscating their properties.
The ED said it conducted more than 260 searches across India leading to the seizure of gold, diamond, platinum, silver, precious and semi-precious stones, jewellery, and watches belonging to Modi, Choksi and the companies belonging to them.
“Bank accounts and shares belonging to Modi and Choksi, and companies controlled by them were also frozen. Luxury cars and paintings were also seized,” said an ED officer.
The agency has already filed charge sheets against the duo on May 24 and June 26 this year. Subsequently, the court issued non-bailable warrants against the duo. Interpol also issued Red Notice against Nirav Modi.
ED had registered a case under two cases of money laundering against the duo on the basis of two first information reports (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January 2018. CBI had alleged that Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi allegedly cheated Punjab National Bank (PNB) in connivance with certain bank officials by fraudulently getting Letters of Undertaking (LOUs) issued to their three firms without any collateral and without following prescribed procedure, causing wrongful loss to PNB.
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