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NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate conducted searches on 23 premises associated with jeweller Nirav Modi, his business partner Mehul Choksi and others in Mumbai, Delhi, Surat, Hyderabad and Jaipur on Thursday in connection with the PNB scam and seized assets worth Rs 5,100 crore. It also attached Rs 3 crore found in a bank account associated with Nirav.
The agency is expected to conduct more searches over the next few days. Sources said the assets seized included diamonds, semi-precious stones, pearls, gold and silver. Sources said the estimate of the seized assets was determined on their ‘stock’ value and the market value (sale price) could be several times more.
Most of the jewellery was found in storage rooms owned by Nirav’s companies. An ED source said five premises belonging to Nirav and Choksi were sealed in Mumbai. Immovable properties were being identified and those belonging to Nirav and Choksi would be attached. Nirav and his close family members fled the country just before the CBI could detain them after registering a case on January 31.
When in Mumbai, Nirav would stay with his wife and children at the upscale Samudra Mahal building in Worli. The CBI had searched the premises 10 days ago. Building security staff said the CBI had sealed their duplex flat on the top floor after the search. On Wednesday, senior PNB officials had visited the ED headquarters and met its director Karnal Singh to brief him on the swindle.
The agency registered a money laundering case against the accused. ED’s money laundering case is based on a CBI FIR registered on January 31 accusing Nirav of defrauding PNB by fraudulently obtaining Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) from the bank in collusion with some officials without entering the transactions in the bank’s records.
The PNB later approached the CBI with more evidence, indicating that the fraud by Nirav and others could be to the tune of Rs 11,300 crore. In 2015, the DRI had raided Nirav’s units in Surat SEZ for violation of import-export norms. DRI served show cause notices raising a demand of Rs 37 crore as penalty.
Nirav deposited Rs 48 crore as duty demand, penalty and interest. DRI had also unearthed a Rs 2,252 crore fake remittance scam of PNB in 2016-17, and had transferred the case to ED for further probe. The ED had attached bank accounts with Rs 19 crore of some of the fraudsters involved in the case.