India seizes properties worth INR5.24 bn of billionaire jeweller in bank fraud probe

The celebrity jeweller is said to have fled the country and was reportedly last seen in New York


Xinhua March 19, 2018
PHOTO COURTESY: FACEBOOK/@NIRAVMODIjewels

NEW DELHI: Indian authorities have seized a solar power plant and some 134 acres of land belonging to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi in connection with the country's biggest-ever bank fraud of 1.8 billion US dollars.

"The Enforcement Directorate took possession of the land and solar power plant in Ahmednagar in western India Sunday. Earlier, it attached 21 immovable properties worth INR5.24 bn belonging to the jeweller and his companies," a senior official said Monday.

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Indian authorities have already sought Interpol's help to track down Modi and and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi in connection with the bank fraud. India's External Affairs Ministry has also revoked their passports.

Modi is said to have defrauded Punjab National Bank, India's second largest state-run bank, of 1.8 billion US dollars, though he has said that he owed the bank only 775 million US dollars, in a letter sent to the bank's management.

Indian investigators have so far arrested nearly 20 people, including some senior executives of companies owned by Modi and Choksi as well as high-ranking officials of state-owned Punjab National Bank, in the fraud probe.

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However, they have not yet been able to arrest Modi and his uncle yet. The celebrity jeweller is said to have fled the country and was reportedly last seen in New York after his appearance at World Economic Forum in Davos as a member of the Indian delegation.

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