Diamond trader Nirav Modi tried to derail the Enforcement Directorate’s investigation into the Rs 13,600-crore scam at Punjab National Bank, which he had allegedly perpetrated, many times. The latest trick that has come to light is persuasion and forced confinement of the dummy directors of his foreign shell companies.
These are the shell companies where he diverted the funds from Indian banks.
Modi tried to keep these directors from returning to India and facing the authorities that were probing the biggest scam in the Indian banking industry. Mumbai Mirror reported that the diamantaire had used intimidation and inducement to convince the directors that going back to India would mean prison and loss of their assets.
Sources in the ED cited witness statements and said that these directors were flown to Dubai, UAE and then to Cairo, Egypt, where they were confined “against their wishes.” It was Modi who sponsored the travel and stay. Their passports were taken away, and their phones were smashed. They were allowed to get out of confinement after persuasion, two at a time and after signing some “legal documents.”
Subhash Parab, an executive of one of Modi’s jewelry firm Firestar India, was also sent to Cairo with these directors. He has not yet returned. Parab is a key accused in the scam.
Nirav Modi is presently in the Wandsworth Jail in the UK. During his second bail application on March 29, Modi’s attempts to foil the investigation were presented to the court and, subsequently, his bail was rejected.
It was reported earlier that Modi had threatened Ashish Lad, one of the dummy directors and a witness to the ED, that if he didn’t provide a false statement to the authorities, he would be killed. Modi also offered him Rs 20 lakh. Lad told ED that he had received this death threat from Modi while in Egypt.
The court was informed that Modi has visas and work permits of seven countries including the US, the UK and Hong Kong. Also, he had unsuccessfully sought citizenship of Vanuatu Island in the South Pacific Ocean.
Nirav Modi has been accused of obtaining funds worth Rs 6,498 crore for three of his companies despite their ineligibility, via letters of undertaking (LoU) by a Mumbai branch of PNB. Modi used these funds to fund 17 of his foreign shell companies.