Nirav Modi (File Photo)
In fresh trouble for Nirav Modi, who is currently lodged in a London prison, the Pune bench of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) Saturday directed the fugitive diamond merchant and his aides to pay over Rs 7,200 crore with interest to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and others. Nirav Modi, 48, is wanted in India as the main accused in the PNB fraud and money laundering case amounting up to USD 2 billion.
On Saturday, Presiding Officer Deepak Thakkar, who holds additional charge of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Mumbai, passed two orders in two cases in favour of the Punjab National Bank. The PNB had approached the DRT last year seeking recovery of over Rs 7,029 crore.
Later, a consortium of banks, including the PNB, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, UCO Bank, Corporation Bank and United Bank of India filed separate suits seeking recovery of Rs 232 crore.
"Defendant and his partners are ordered and directed to pay the applicant (PNB) either jointly or severally the aggregate sum of Rs 7,029 crore with interest of 14.30 per cent per annum from June 30, 2018," stated the DRT order.
In another order in the suit filed by the consortium of banks, the presiding officer directed Nirav Modi and others to pay Rs 232 crore to the applicant banks with the 16.20 per cent interest from July 27, 2018. In both the suits, the judge granted liberty to applicant to publish the names of the defendants as per rule 15 (A) of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (Procedure) Rules.
In the suit filed by the PNB, the presiding officer also granted liberty to the applicant to apply for appointment of the receiver to implement the judgement in execution before the recovery officer as per the prayer clause of the application. An official from the tribunal said the recovery officials with the DRT will initiate further action.
Nirav Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers in central London on March 19 this year. He faces extradition to India as the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud the PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.
The diamantaire has been behind bars at one of England's most overcrowded prisons-- Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Wandsworth. On July 2, the High Court of Singapore had ordered the freezing of bank deposits worth Rs 44.41 crore kept in that country by Nirav Modi's sister and brother-in-law as part of a money laundering probe in India.
On June 27, authorities in Switzerland had "frozen" four accounts belonging to Nirav Modi and his relatives as part of the criminal money laundering probe being conducted against them in India.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly defrauding the PNB of Rs 13,400 crore.
Multiple investigation agencies, including the ED, Serious Fraud Investigation Office, CBI, Department of Revenue Intelligence and the Income Tax department, are currently investigating the fraud.