Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's sister and brother-in-law have "turned approvers" in the $2 billion PNB fraud case against him and they will help the Enforcement Directorate confiscate assets worth Rs 579 crore, the agency said on Thursday.
Nirav Modi, who is presently lodged in a London jail, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) money laundering case since 2018. The diamond merchant's younger sister Purvi Modi (47) is a Belgian national while her husband Maiank Mehta is a British citizen. They are stated to be based abroad and have never joined the probe in this case.
Purvi Modi was arraigned as an accused in the alleged criminal bank fraud case where multiple charge sheets have been filed by the ED and also the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Her assets, including some Swiss bank deposits, were earlier freezed by the ED and she had informed the court that she had "no beneficial interest" in these properties seized by the agency under her name.
"Nirav Modi's sister Purvi Modi and her husband Maiank Mehta turn approver for assisting in confiscation of two flats in New York, one each in London and Mumbai, balances in two Swiss bank accounts and a bank account in Mumbai totalling to Rs 579 crore in the Nirav Modi bank fraud case," the ED said in a statement.
Earlier this week, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai accepted the plea of the couple for turning approver in this case.
In her application made to the court for pardon, Purvi Modi had said that she was not a prime accused and has been attributed only a limited role by the investigating agency. She said that she had fully cooperated with the ED in this investigation by providing all requisite information and documents.
Her plea said that on account of being Nirav Modi's sister, she was in a unique position to provide "substantial and important evidence, information, proof, and documents and access to bank accounts, assets, companies and entities that are relevant to Nirav Modi and his actions/dealings". The ED had also got notified an Interpol global arrest warrant against her in 2018.
According to that Interpol notice, Purvi Modi speaks English, Gujarati and Hindi and is a Belgian national.
Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being probed by the ED on money laundering charges since 2018 for allegedly perpetrating an over USD 2 billion (more than Rs 13,000 crore) bank fraud in connivance with bank officials and by issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) at the Brady House PNB branch in Mumbai.
Nirav Modi, 49, is presently lodged in a London jail after his arrest there in 2019 and the legal process to extradite him to India on money laundering charges is currently on.
He has been declared a fugitive economic offender by a Mumbai PMLA court on December, 2019.
The agency till now has attached assets worth Rs 2,348 crore (assessed value) of Nirav Modi, under the PMLA, in this case.