Celebrity diamond designer Nirav Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi should be declared as 'fugitive economic offenders' and their assets worth Rs 3,500 crores confiscated, the centre's probe agency Enforcement Directorate has told a court in Mumbai.
The central probe agency, which has filed the two applications under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, intends to confiscate their assets estimated to be worth Rs 3,500 crore in India, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.
This is the second case where the agency has invoked the law that empowers the centre to take over assets of economic offenders who flee the country to escape criminal action. Business tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted in the Rs 9,000-crore alleged bank loan fraud case, was the first. He has been summoned by the court on August 27.
Officials said the move has been made on the basis of the two PMLA charge sheets filed by the agency against the two designer diamond jewellers on charges of alleged money laundering.
"Investigations have revealed that Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have committed the offence of cheating against Punjab National Bank (PNB) in connivance with certain bank officials by fraudulently getting the letters of undertaking issued.
"They have further siphoned off the proceeds of crime so generated through layering through multiple dummy, related, connected entities in India and abroad," the agency said in its application.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Choksi are being investigated by the ED and the CBI after it was detected that they allegedly cheated Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,400 crore with the purported involvement of a few of its employees.
The scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January this year, after which PNB officials reported it to the probe agencies.
Two criminal complaints were filed by the ED in these instances after taking cognisance of CBI FIRs.
Non-bailable warrants have already been issued against the two while an Interpol 'red corner' arrest warrant has been issued against Nirav Modi on the request of the ED.
The agency had conducted 260 searches in this case across the country.