India’s federal investigation agency, Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached jewellery and other valuable assets in Hong Kong worth Rs 2.55 billion (£27.00 million) of absconding Indian diamond merchant Nirav Modi.
According to the investigation agency on Thursday (25) the attachment was made in connection with the £1.55bn alleged fraud case in the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB). ED added that it has issued a provisional order under India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for the attachment of the properties.
The valuable assets were exported through 26 shipments by the Middle East-based firms of Nirav Modi to the Hong Kong-based companies controlled by the jeweller after the registration of PNB fraud case in India. All the properties including diamonds and jewellery items were kept in a logistic firm vault in Hong Kong, ED said.
Information on the value of the properties, consignee, shipper, and others of these shipments was gathered during the probe after obtaining the evidence of ownership and value of the products to attach the same, the ED added.
An Indian court-issued order will soon be sent to Hong Kong to formalise the PMLA attachment order, ED officers said. The total attachment value in the PNB fraud case against Modi has reached Rs 47.44bn with this court order.
ED has filed a charge sheet against Modi alleging that he laundered and deviated over Rs 64bn of bank finances abroad to fake firms that were under his and his close relatives’ control.
Modi has been moved out of India and is still absconding since the alleged bank fraud came into light. An Interpol arrest warrant has been issued against Modi and others in connection with the financial fraud case.
Modi and others are being investigated by Indian investigators under various criminal laws after the fraud at PNB came to light in 2018 following a complaint filed by PNB. The PNB in its complaint alleged that Modi and others cheated the lender to the tune of over Rs 130bn, with the intended involvement of some of its employees.