Nirav Modi denied bail yet again by UK court

A British court on Thursday extended till August 22 the judicial custody of Nirav Modi in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

The Westminster Magistrates Court ordered the Metropolitan Police to place him in its custody till the next hearing on August 22.

The 48-year-old businessman, wanted in India, was arrested from Holborn here on March 19. Since then he has been fighting extradition proceedings.

Modi & his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate & the Central Bureau of Investigation after the PNB alleged that they cheated it of Rs 13,500 crore with the involvement of some bank employees.

Modi also faces charges under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. The ED has filed a chargesheet against Choksi in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court in Mumbai.

Both fled India before details of the fraud emerged in January 2018.

Nirav Modi denied bail for a third time and supposed to remain in ‘unliveable’ UK jail

The next hearing in the case will happen on May 30. In the meantime, Nirav Modi will be taken back to prison.

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London rejected the third bail plea presented by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi on Wednesday. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot heard Modi’s fresh bail application today. The next hearing in his extradition proceedings has been scheduled for May 30. He will now be taken back to Wandsworth prison where he can discuss further course of action with his legal team.

During the hearing, Modi’s legal team tried to convince the judge of a change in circumstances to secure bail for him. It also doubled the bail security to 2 million pounds and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat.

“Conditions in Wandsworth (prison) are unliveable… Modi is willing to abide by any conditions you choose to impose,” his barrister Clare Montgomery told the Judge during the hearing.

 

However, Judge Arbuthnot denied bail to Modi as she feared that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.

Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of Indian authorities, said Modi should not be granted bail as the evidence presented by the defence does not amount to change of circumstances required to the third bail application.

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London rejected the third bail plea presented by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi on Wednesday. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot heard Modi’s fresh bail application today. The next hearing in his extradition proceedings has been scheduled for May 30. He will now be taken back to Wandsworth prison where he can discuss further course of action with his legal team.

During the hearing, Modi’s legal team tried to convince the judge of a change in circumstances to secure bail for him. It also doubled the bail security to 2 million pounds and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat.

“Conditions in Wandsworth (prison) are unliveable… Modi is willing to abide by any conditions you choose to impose,” his barrister Clare Montgomery told the Judge during the hearing.

 

However, Judge Arbuthnot denied bail to Modi as she feared that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.

Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of Indian authorities, said Modi should not be granted bail as the evidence presented by the defence does not amount to change of circumstances required to the third bail application.

A team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), led by a joint director rank official was also present at the court to oppose Modi’s bail application. Reports suggest that the team held a meeting with the CPS before the hearing and presented some fresh evidence to present before the court.

Modi is believed to have been living in the UK on an Investor Visa. He had applied for the ‘golden visa’ in 2015 when it was relatively easier for super-rich individuals to acquire residency rights in the United Kingdom based on a minimum of 2 million pounds investment.

 

He was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing on March 20 soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since then.

He was denied bail a second time on March 29 by Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot who ruled that there were “substantial grounds” to believe that he would fail to surrender and also noted that “very unusually in a fraud case” the accused had made death threats to witnesses.

 

 

 

Nirav Modi to make another bail plea in UK court on May 8

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi would make another bail plea on May 8 at the UK court where he is undergoing extradition proceedings to India in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering charges amounting to up to USD 2 billion.

The 48-year-old, who has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his two previous bail applications were rejected following his arrest on March 19, is to appear before Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates’ Court here on May 8 for a third attempt.

“The next hearing will be on 8 May. The application for bail will be heard before Judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates’ Court,” said a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is representing the Indian authorities in the extradition case.

Barrister Nick Hearn from Furnival Chambers will represent the CPS at the bail hearing, while Modi will be represented by Clare Montgomery of Matrix Chambers.

At the last hearing in the case on April 26, when Modi had appeared before Judge Arbuthnot via videolink from prison, his legal team had made no application for bail and he was further remanded in judicial custody until May 24. While his two previous bail pleas have been rejected on the grounds that there was a “substantial risk he would fail to surrender”, he can make a third application if there is a considerable change in circumstances.

Modi is reportedly relying on “new evidence” and will seek to persuade the judge that this constitutes a change of circumstances so that he can be permitted to make another bail application next Wednesday.

His legal team, led by solicitor Anand Doobay, have previously offered one million pounds as security alongside an offer to meet stringent electronic tag restrictions on their client’s movements, “akin to house arrest”. It remains to be seen how they plan to bolster the application for a third attempt before the same court.

“This is a case of substantial fraud, with loss to a bank in India of between USD 1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case,” Judge Arbuthnot had said, when rejecting Modi’s last bail attempt.

She also noted that “very unusually in a fraud case” the accused had made death threats to witnesses and also attempted to destroy evidence in the case. The diamond dealer’s “lack of community ties” in the UK and an attempt to acquire the citizenship of Vanuatu in late 2017 went against him as the judge said it seemed like he was trying to “move away from India at an important time”.

Montgomery, Modi’s barrister, had made a series of offers to try and convince the judge to grant bail, even bringing up his pet dog.

“He did have a son at Charterhouse [school in London] who has now gone to university in the States and as a sign of ageing parents, led Mr Modi to get a dog instead. None of these actions are emblematic of someone setting out to flee the country,” she had claimed.

“It is nonsense to say that he is a flight risk. He does not have a safe haven open to him and he has not travelled or applied for citizenship elsewhere he only qualifies for leave to remain in this country, she said.

Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers in central London on March 19. During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that Modi was the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.

At the hearing last week, the court was told that May 30 had been tentatively fixed as the first case management hearing in his extradition case. It remains to be seen how the case will progress after the new bail plea next week.

Nirav Modi’s illegal bungalow in Alibaug to be razed: Maha govt to HC

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that Nirav Modi’s bungalow at Alibaug beach has been razed by the state authorities. State government counsel PB Kakade told a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice MS Karnik that it also intends to demolish 58 other private properties for which notices have been served.

The state filed an affidavit in the court stating that orders to demolish Modi’s illegal bungalow have been issued. The bench was hearing a petition filed by an activist, Surendra Dhavale. As per the petition, such constructions had been carried out in violation of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority rules and the state’s land laws.

In 2010, Modi was issued a demolition notice. As many as 58 other such constructions by locals on Alibaug beaches will also be razed. The bench took note of the state’s submissions and scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 20.

Nirav Modi,accused of a 2 billion dollar fraud has fled to UK

NEW DELHI: Billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi, currently being accused of a 2 billion dollar fraud has fled to United Kindom seeking political asylum there.

The fraud committed by Nirav Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi came in light in January 2018 when the Punjab National Bank pointed out to a 2.2 billion dollar scam by the duo, by raising false overseas guarantees by numerous Indian Banks. They were assisted by PNB staff members to pull off the fraud over a period of several years. Currently PNB is the second-largest state owned bank.

In connection to this case, the Police have filed charges against Nirav Modi and his associates, including Mehul Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian along with two of the bank’s Executive Officials and three of Modi’s companies. CBI in May had filed a 12,000 page charge sheet under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) before a special Court.

As per the statements of Indian and British officials, Nirav Modi has claimed asylum from “political persecution” that he may face in India. The Ministry of External Affairs has stated that it awaits the law enforcement agencies to approach the absconding duo, before initiating extradition proceedings against them.

India is also trying for extradition of Kingfischer Airlines owner and liquor tycoon Viay Mallya, who is in UK and facing charges of money laundering and fraud to the tune of Rs. 9000 crores

Warrant issued against Nirav Modi in Tax evasion case.

A magistrate’s court here today issued a bailable arrest warrant against diamond trader Nirav Modi in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion in purchase of a property which turned out to be “benami”, an Income Tax department official said.

Benami properties are those that are not bought and registered in the name of their real owner. Holding benami properties is an offence.

Modi is also a key accused in the Rs 12,717 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.

“The court has issued a bailable warrant against Modi,” the official said.

He said the department was investigating the matter against Modi since 2017 but declined to disclose the details of the property.

The Income Tax department had recorded the statements of Modi, who is said to be in the US, and some of his employees.

The official said the probe revealed that Modi had given a false statement to department

“When we went to his residence in Worli recently with summons, we found it locked,” the officer said. A case was later filed in the court.

The court adjourned the case till next month.

India’s biggest bank fraud accused Nirav Modi’s Firestar Diamond files for bankruptcy in US

India’s biggest bank fraud accused Nirav Modi’s international jewellery business has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Firestar Diamond, Inc filed the Chapter 11 voluntary petition in the New York Southern Bankruptcy Court yesterday, according to the court filing.

The case has been assigned to Judge Sean H. Lane and an “order for relief entered”.

Firestar Diamond, which on its website states that its operations span the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and India, blamed liquidity and supply chain challenges.

It listed up to USD 100 million in assets and debt, the court document said.

In its eight-page petition filed by its sole director Mihir Bhansali, Firestar Diamond said that in the judgement of the Director, “it is desirable and in the best interests of the Company, its respective creditors, and other interested parties that a petition be filed by the Company seeking relief under the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States.”

The court papers do not mention the name of its founder Nirav Modi or his uncle Mehul Choski, both of whom are charged with bank fraud running into nearly USD2 billion.

An e-mail sent to the company’s attorney Klestadt Winters Jureller remained unanswered.

On its website, Firestar Diamond states that it was founded in 1999 as a loose diamond supplier and expanded into jewellery manufacturing in 2001. It acquired Frederick Goldman diamond jewellery to get a private label and enter the US national retail market.

Thereafter, it expanded US distribution and set up a Belgium unit in 2009. In 2010, the firm launched ‘Nirav Modi ultra-luxury diamond jewellery brand’, it said.

The website did not provide ownership pattern of Firestar Diamond.

Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and firms linked to them are alleged to have defrauded Punjab National Bank (PNB) of close to USD 2 billion (Rs 12,717 crore).

The jewellers and companies linked to them had allegedly colluded with PNB officers to obtain fake bank guarantees to get loans from overseas branches of Indian banks, including Allahabad Bank, Axis Bank and UCO Bank.

The bankruptcy filing includes Firestar’s A. Jaffe Inc wedding jewellery affiliate and Fantasy Inc affiliate, and estimates the numbers of creditors at between 50 to 99.

PNB fraud : Vipul Ambani and 5 others in CBI custody till Mar 5

A special court here today remanded Vipul Ambani, the president (finance) of Nirav Modi’s Fire Star Diamond, and five others in CBI custody till March 5 in connection with the Rs 11,400 crore alleged fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The six were arrested yesterday in connection with two FIRs registered by the CBI involving Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the owner of Gitanjali Gems.

The FIRs are related to fraudulent issuance of 150 Letters of Undertaking (LoU), a kind of bank guarantee, worth Rs 6,498 crore and 143 LoUs worth Rs 4,886 crore, issued during 2011-17.

Ambani, Kavita Mankikar (executive assistant and authorised signatory of three firms–Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond, Solar Exports), Arjun Patil (senior executive, Firestar group), and Rajesh Jindal, the then head of the Brady House branch of PNB, were listed as accused in the FIR registered by the CBI on January 31.

Those arrested in connection with Choksi’s firms are Nakshatra group and Gitanjali group CFO Kapil Khandelwal and Gitanjali group manager Niten Shahi.

The six were remanded in CBI custody till March 5 by Special Court Judge S R Tamboli.

While seeking Shahi’s custody, the CBI said he fabricated applications and related documents for issuance of purported LoUs for fraudulently availing buyers credit from PNB.

Shahi claimed that all documents were prepared and submitted to Shetty at the instance of one Vipul Chatalia, it said, adding that he was evasive on what was done with the documents once the transactions were completed.

“It is understood that Shetty was returning the set of documents without making the entries in their books although the corresponding SWIFT messages were conveyed to the overseas bank”, the agency said.

According to the CBI, “there is every reason” to believe that Shahi had actively participated in the conspiracy and was aware of other conspirators, the modus operandi adopted and of the end-use of defrauded funds.

On Khandelwal’s role, the CBI said he was reporting to Choksi and was privy to all transactions, including the illegal ones.

“He admitted that he was looking after various credit limits that were extended to the companies by PNB. During examination, he stated the companies were only undertaking transactions, including imports, against credit limits sanctioned to them,” the CBI said.

Special Public Prosecutor Limosin A told the court that they had to unearth how and where these documents for the issuance of LOUs and FLCs were prepared.

He said the agency wanted to recover the documents relating to issuance of LOUs which were handed back by Shetty after transactions and unearth utilisation of the proceeds of the defrauded amount.

“We have to identity other accomplices involved, identify the modus operandi, and to ascertain how many other banks have been defrauded”, said Limosin.

On Ambani’s role, the agency said being the finance department’s head from May 2013 to November 2017, he was aware of the fraudulent and illegal LOUs which were being issued by Shetty in conspiracy and guidance of Modi and other employees.

He was visiting and meeting not only the Brady House branch officials of PNB but also the officials of its circle and zonal offices.

“Ambani’s knowledge of the fraudulent transactions is proved from the fact that during searches at his office, the applications of fraudulent LoUs made to PNB by the three firms of Nirav Modi were seized,” the CBI stated in its remand application.

“The documents and circumstances prove his (Ambani’s) knowledge of the fraudulent applications for LOUs being made in the same premises of Firestar group companies.

“They also prove deliberate acts of omission by Ambani by not protesting the issuance of such fraudulent LoUs that led to the continuance of concealment and large-scale fraud in this case of PNB and loss and diversion of thousands of crores of public funds. This fact prove his part in this sinister conspiracy to cheat PNB,” the agency said.

On Mankikar’s role, CBI said she was the authorised signatory of Modi’s firms that fraudulently obtained LoUs from PNB for the issuance of buyers credit.

“She had fraudulently signed the applications for issuance of the LoUs. She told the agency that she was signing documents as per Modi’s instructions without knowing facts or ramifications of her actions,” the CBI said.

According to the CBI, Patil had prepared the application submitted to PNB in the name of Modi’s firms for issuance of buyers credit. “He has not disclosed how and where such applications were fraudulently prepared,” the agency said.

Seeking remand of Jindal, the CBI said they questioned him about the LoUs issued during his tenure in 2010-2011. “He allowed Shetty to continue issuing LoUs without following existing banking procedure, policy guidelines of PNB and RBI,” it said.

Opposing the custody of the accused, defence lawyers told the court that they had revealed to the CBI whatever they knew.

PNB fraud PMLA case : ED summons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi

The ED today issued summons for appearance to billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his business partner Mehul Choksi in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 11,400 crore alleged fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB), officials said.

They said both Modi and Choksi were summoned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and asked to depose within a week’s time.

The notices were handed over to the directors of the firms of the two businessmen as they were not in the country.

While Modi runs the jewellery brand chain under his name, Choksie is the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.

The ED had registered a PMLA case against them and others based on a CBI FIR which was the result of a PNB complaint.

The ED yesterday carried out multiple raids on showrooms, workshops, offices and residences of Modi and Choksi and seized diamonds, jewellery and gold worth Rs 5,100 crore.

The agency was probing if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and these proceeds of crime subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.

Modi, 46, a regular feature on the lists of rich and famous Indians since 2013, was booked by the CBI, along with wife, brother and Choksi on January 31, for allegedly cheating the state-run PNB to the tune of Rs 280 crore.

The bank has sent two more complaints to the CBI on Tuesday, saying the scam was worth more than Rs 11,400 crore.

The CBI had earlier raided the residences of Modi, his brother, wife and Choksi, all partners of Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds and two bank officials — Gokulnath Shetty (now retired) and Manoj Kharat, who were also named in the FIR as accused.

“The public servants committed abuse of official position to cause pecuniary advantage to Diamond R US, Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and a wrongful loss of Rs 280.70 crore to Punjab National Bank during 2017,” the CBI FIR has alleged.

The jewellery designer is a citizen of the country but his brother Nishal and wife Ami are not Indian nationals. They all left India between January 1 and 6, the CBI said.

Will take appropriate supervisory action in PNB case : RBI

The Reserve Bank today said it has already undertaken an assessment of control systems at scam-hit Punjab National Bank and will take “appropriate supervisory action”.

The country’s second largest state-run lender has been rocked by a Rs 11,400-crore fraud allegedly involving billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi.

In a statement, the central bank said it has already undertaken a supervisory assessment of control systems in Punjab National Bank (PNB).

“The fraud in PNB is a case of operational risk arising on account of delinquent behaviour by one or more employees of the bank and failure of internal controls.

“RBI has already undertaken a supervisory assessment of control systems in PNB and will take appropriate supervisory action,” it said.

The RBI also denied media reports that it had directed PNB to meet its commitments under the letters of undertaking (LoUs) to other banks.

State-owned PNB detected a USD 1.77 billion scam where billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from a branch in Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other Indian lenders.