PNB Rs 11,000-cr fraud: Govt suspends Nirav Modi's passport for four weeks; ED raids Modi's Kala Ghoda boutique
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi allegedly connived with a few employees at Punjab National Bank's Mumbai branch to get issued fake Letters of Undertakings
The Narendra Modi government on Friday, two days after the Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud was busted, suspended passport of Nirav Modi who has been at the centre of the scam. The authorities said Modi's passport was suspended only for four weeks and the the measure could be extended if it was required in future. India's anti-money laundering agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), is conducting a through investigation in the case. Earlier, the premier investigating agency the CBI had also filed cases in what has been touted to be biggest corporate fraud in India's banking history.
The government has further informed that Nirav Modi's passport was suspended after ED had approached it with a request for the same. "On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the Passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended validity of passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks," news agency ANI quoted a government official as saying.
On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the Passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has suspended validity of passports of #NiravModi & #MehulChoksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks pic.twitter.com/DwBMxawJ5m
— ANI (@ANI) February 16, 2018
Later in the day the finance ministry under which the ED works informed the agency will raid as many as fifty locations across the country as part of its widespread investigation in the Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. Nirav Modi's maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, managing director of Gitanjali Group, has also been named as the key player in the scam due to which the bank has lost $1.77 billion.
The uncle and nephew duo, it has been alleged, connived with a few employees at Punjab National Bank's Mumbai branch to get issued fake Letters of Undertakings or comfort documents to commit the fraud. With suspension of the passports of the Modi and Choksi, the government has asked the duo to reply to the step taken within one week. They have been asked to explain why their passports should not be impounded or revoked, ANI reported. Earlier on Friday, the ED raided Modi's boutique in Mumbai's Kala Ghoda district.
The Enforcement Directorate had earlier this month undertaken a similar operation and frozen funds worth Rs 46.67 crore. These funds were stated by the agency to be belonging to certain merchant entities and held in payment gateways like Easebuzz, Razorpay, Cashfree and Paytm
The Calcutta High Court had ordered to involve the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in this case. Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Swarna Kamal Saha and other TMC leaders had approached the Supreme Court challenging that order
Punjab National Bank is making this move to comply RBI guidelines