FOUR Swiss bank accounts of diamantaire Nirav Modi and his sister have been ‘frozen’ by authorities in Switzerland as part of the criminal money laundering probe being conducted against them in India, official sources said.
Nirav Modi is the main accused in the $2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case who is wanted in India for legal proceedings.
The officials said the accounts, at present, have deposits totalling Rs 2.8316bn and they have been frozen on the request of the Indian probe agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) after it informed Swiss authorities that the money kept in them are “proceeds of crime” of a bank fraud perpetrated by the duo.
The ED, official sources said, made the request to the Swiss authorities sometime back and had also sent an official request under the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
It is not immediately known in which bank these accounts are held.
A provisional order for attachment of these four accounts, and one more in the name of a company controlled by Nirav Modi, was issued by the probe agency in Mumbai in September last year. The five overseas accounts then had Rs 2.78bn in deposits.
Official sources said while the accounts of Nirav Modi, under arrest in this case in London, have deposits of $3,74,11,596, the accounts in the name of his sister Purvi Modi has deposits of £27,38,136.
The total amount is about Rs 2.8316bn, they said.
The federal probe agency is now expected to make a move for the seizure and subsequent confiscation of these bank accounts under the PMLA.
The ED, along with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is investigating Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others for alleged money laundering and corruption to defraud the Brady House branch of the PNB in Mumbai to the tune of over Rs 130bn.
Nirav Modi has been absconding since the alleged bank fraud, by far the highest in the country in terms of value, came to light last year.
The ED has also filed a charge sheet against Nirav Modi alleging that he laundered and diverted over Rs 64bn of bank funds abroad to dummy companies that were under his and his family’s control.
A total of 24 names were listed in the charge sheet, filed under section 45 of the PMLA. It includes Nirav Modi, his father Deepak Modi, brother Neeshal Modi, sister Purvi Modi, brother-in-law Maiank Mehta and the designer jewellers’ firms Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and Diamonds.