Nirav Modi (Photo Credit: File Image)
A special court here on Thursday declared diamantaire Nirav Modi, the key accused in the USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, a fugitive economic offender, on a plea of the Enforcement Directorate. He is the second businessman after Vijay Mallya to be declared a fugitive economic offender under provisions of the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, which came into existence in August last year.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the PNB fraud case, related to alleged fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertaking that caused a loss of over USD 2 billion to the public sector bank. Nirav Modi was earlier arrested in London and his extradition process is pending.
On Wednesday, a special court directed Nirav Modi, prime accused in the over USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, and two others, to appear before it by January 15, failing which it will proceed to declare them proclaimed offenders.
Special CBI court judge V C Barde issued the proclamation order against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal Modi and a close associate Subhash Parab, directing them to remain present before it by mid January.
As per the law, once a court issues a proclamation order, the accused needs to remain present before it within the stipulated deadline, failing which it can proceed to declare the accused a proclaimed offender. Once a person is declared a proclaimed offender, the probe agency can begin confiscation of his properties in India. Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the case, which is related to alleged fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertaking that caused a loss of over USD 2 billion to PNB, a public sector bank.
While Nirav Modi was arrested in London and his extradition process is pending, the whereabouts of Neeshal and Parab were not known, the CBI had said in its application. The probe agency has claimed that Parab was an executive in Nirav Modi's firm.
Earlier, in its plea seeking to attach the property of the three accused, the central agency had said that they had left the country before the case was registered, so the warrants against them could not be executed. Meanwhile, a special Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act court here is likely to pass an order on Thursday on a Enforcement Directorate (ED) plea to declare Nirav Modi a fugitive economic offendor in the case.