Non-bailable warrants issued against Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi

Non-bailable warrants issued against Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi
Nirav Modi (left) and Mehul Choksi are the key accused in the PNB fraud case

A special court in Mumbai on Saturday issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against diamond traders Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the key accused in the near $2 billion PNB fraud case.

Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after it came to light, following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank (PNB), that they allegedly cheated the bank with the purported involvement of a few bank employees.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have registered two FIRs each in connection with the case.

The ED had earlier approached the special court, set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, to get non-bailable warrants issued against the two businessmen.

Special PMLA Court Judge MS Azmi had heard the arguments of the ED’s special counsel Hiten Venegoankar on the agency’s plea seeking issuance of the NBW against the accused on 27 February.

Venegoankar told the court that the ED registered a case against Nirav on 15 February and from that time issued three summonses to him to appear before the agency.

He said the summonses were issued on 15 February, 17 February and 22 February, asking him to appear before the ED.

The ED lawyer said Nirav did not appear before the agency for questioning and hence had sought issuance of an NBW against him.

Venegoankar said the first summons was issued to the billionaire jeweller on his last known address and his employees received it. The other two were issued via e-mail. He added that the agency received replies from Nirav for two summonses.

In response to the second summons, Nirav said he cannot appear before the agency owing to his business commitments. In reply to the third summons, the businessman raised the issue of his security, the ED counsel said.

“He has violated all the three summonses,” Venegoankar had told the court and had requested the court to issue an open-ended NBW against Nirav Modi.

However, Nirav’s advocate Agarwal told the court he should be heard before any decision is taken on issuing the NBW as it involved fundamental rights of his client.

The CBI had also directed Nirav to join the investigation and asked him to contact the High Commission of the concerned country. The diamantaire, however, claimed that he could not join the probe due to business commitments abroad.

When asked about the issuance of NBW against Nirav, Aggarwal has said he will challenge the order in Bombay High Court.

“We are considering to challenge the order in HC on behalf of Nirav Modi. But final decision shall be taken only upon seeing the order. We have not even been given a copy of the application that ED filed,” Aggarwal told ANI.

Nirav along with his wife Ami, brother Neeshal and uncle Mehul Choksi left India in the first week of January before PNB disclosed the fraud. They have not returned to India since then.

The Government, meanwhile, has revoked the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

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