ED: Nirav Modi’s brother fled with 50kg gold jewellery
MUMBAI: Nirav Modi’s US-based stepbrother Nehal “disappeared” with 50kg gold jewellery from a Dubai safe house as soon as he learned that the CBI had registered a cheating case against the diamond trader for defrauding Punjab National Bank (PNB), according to investigators. The jewellery was stocked for sale through Modi’s retail outlets abroad, said officials.
After the scam broke, Nehal realised that investigating agencies would try to stall the shifting of the jewellery from Dubai. He acted swiftly and moved it to a safer location, sources said. Nehal is based in the US and was associated with Gitanjali Gems, one of Mehul Choksi’s firms. Nehal was not named as an accused by the CBI but the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has now cited him for allegedly playing a significant role in laundering the proceeds of bank funds siphoned out of India by his brother, a source said. Nehal is one of 24 accused named in the chargesheet submitted to a special court in Mumbai on Thursday by the ED.
Choksi, Nirav Modi’s uncle, also planned to ferry 34,000 gold and diamond pieces from a Dubai safe house.
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Choksi’s attempt to ferry gold and diamonds from Dubai was thwarted by ED officials, who coerced one of his employees to bring it back into the country before attaching it. The entire Modi family had fled the country days before the registration of the first case; but they sent Nehal back to negotiate with PNB to seek more time for repayment of dues. Nehal requested PNB officials to extend more credit, which he said he would be utilised to repay some of the existing dues, sources said. He promised the balance would be made good through foreign investments and funds raised by a forthcoming IPO. The bank rejected the proposal following a series of meetings, sources said.
Nirav had availed of a letter of undertaking (LoU) facility from PNB to pay foreign clients from whom he purchased gems for import into India, apparently for value addition. The ED chargesheet has also named Mihir Bhansali, Nirav’s second-in-command in the business, as an accused. The statements of many of those appointed by Nirav as directors of shell companies, which were used to move out funds, said Bhansali was the one who handed out instructions to them. Bhansali was a director in Firestar Diamond Inc, Nirav’s international jewellery business company, which filed for bankruptcy in a US court days after the registration of the CBI case.