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Opinion

PNB fraud: Nirav Modi’s Mumbai penthouse won’t be auctioned before December 14, ED tells HC

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The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) assured the Bombay High Court on Thursday that a luxurious triplex penthouse at Samudra Mahal in Worli, Mumbai, owned by fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, one of the main defendants in fraud of 13.5 billion euros rupees at the National Bank of Punjab (GNP), will not be auctioned before December 14.

The guarantee came in response to a petition filed by Nirav Modi’s son, Rohin, challenging the confiscation of the property, claiming it belonged to a trust established in his name.

On June 8, 2020, a special court of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) in Mumbai ordered the confiscation of Nirav Modi’s movable and immovable property worth Rs1,396 crore.

The order came in an application filed by ED under the provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act 2018, and the properties to be confiscated include Modi’s bank balances in India and England, as well as his real estate in India. , United Arab Emirates and England. .

Rohin’s lawyer, lawyer Amit Sibal, maintained that the property of Samudra Mahal did not belong to any individual, but to the Rohin Trust. He added that the provisions of the FEO Act require that notices be issued to each interested person before ordering the confiscation of any property.

But no notice was sent to Robin, although he is the beneficiary of the Rohin Trust and the order was approved without giving him a chance to listen.

Sibal argued that the Samudra Mahal property could not be labeled as “proceeds of crime” as it was purchased in 2006, while the alleged crime, massive fraud in the PNB, was committed from 2011 onwards.

ED’s attorney, attorney Hiten Venegaonkar, said that Rohin is only 10℅ beneficiary of the Trust and its main beneficiaries were his parents, and one of them, Nirav Modi, was declared a fugitive criminal by the special court in December 2019.

Furthermore, Venegaonkar said, the petitioner was a minor at the relevant time and his father and natural guardian were represented before the special court, so Rohin cannot claim that he was not represented or heard before issuing the confiscation order.

The ED’s attorney asked the court to postpone the hearing until December 14. Venegaonkar assured the court that “nothing will happen” regarding the property until December 14.

On January 31, 2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation recorded an offense under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code against Modi and several others, including two officers from PNB.

According to the complaint filed by PNB, between February and May 2017, Nirav Modi and his associated firms obtained the fraudulent issuance of 150 Letters of Commitment (LOU) from PNB’s Brady House branch and deceived the public sector bank for a sum of USD 1,015.35 million. , equivalent to Rs6,498.20 crore.

A similar crime has been recorded against Mehul Choksi for cheating PNB out of millions of rupees using the same modus operandi.

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