The government on Friday revoked the passport and moved all assets of disgraced diamond czar Nirav Modi. The government has moved to attach all the assets in the Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank fraud, including those of the companies owned by them. The accused include jeweller Nirav Modi, his wife Ami Modi, his brother Nishaal Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi.
The ED attaches 21 properties of Nirav Modi group, including flats and farmhouses, worth over Rs 523 crore under anti-money laundering law on Saturday. The attached assets include a farm house in Alibag, Solar Power Plant, 135 Acre land in Ahmednagar and residential & office properties in Mumbai & Pune.
“The ministry of external affairs (MEA) sent an email informing Nirav that his passport stands revoked under section 10 (3) © of the Passport Act,” said a person familiar with the matter. Section 10 (3) © of the Act says that a passport can be revoked in the interests of the sovereignty, integrity, security of the country or friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public.
Revoking the passport of an accused is aimed at stopping the person from travelling from one country to another to avoid arrest.
“Nirav replied to the notice raising objections on the notice of revocation issued to him but soon the ministry responded to his email telling him that the passport has been revoked,” added the person.
On Friday, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) with a petition under sections 221 and 222 of the Companies Act to freeze all assets of the 64 respondents in the Nirav Modi case. Modi’s lawyer, Vijay Aggarwal, however, criticised the government move.
“The passport of my client has been revoked in violation of the guidelines and court rulings in this regard as at the moment, there is only an FIR against him, no prosecution has been launched. We may approach court against the order,” Aggarwal said.
The MEA on February 16 had suspended the passport of Nirav Modi on the request of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), India’s financial crime probe agency, and issued him notice asking why his passport should not be revoked altogether.
Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Group and maternal uncle of the diamond czar Nirav Modi, on Saturday released a letter to his employees in which he said that he has done nothing wrong and truth shall prevail.
Choksi expressed his “helplessness” to clear the dues of his company’s 3,500 employees as investigative agencies have seized his bank accounts and other properties.
Choksi’s letter comes a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigated around 144 “suspicious companies “associated with diamond merchant and his nephew Nirav Modi.