PNB fraud: ED seizes over Rs 218 crore assets of Mehul Choksi, others
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Wednesday seized assets worth over Rs 218 crore in the nearly Rs 13,000 crore loan fraud case probe, officials said. They said three provisional orders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were issued by the central investigative agency's zonal office in Mumbai for attachment of the properties in India and abroad.
The beneficiaries of these assets put under attachment, they said, are absconding diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, Mihir Bhansali, a close aide and US-based executive of main accused in the case Nirav Modi, and a company named A P Gems and Jewellery Park. The total value of the attached and seized assets is Rs 218.46 crore, they said.
The ED is probing this case along with the CBI where it is alleged that Nirav Modi and Choksi defrauded the Brady House branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) in Mumbai to the tune of about USD 2 billion (over Rs 13,000 crore) in alleged connivance with officials.
Earlier in an interview with Hindustan Times, Choksi, who obtained the citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda in November 2017, claimed that he is a victim of political persecution ahead of elections in 2019. "There were complacencies in the bank operations, systems, procedures guidelines etc as many bank officials have been charged for not doing their job according to the banking norms and policies. The bank is squarely liable for the lapses however I have been made a scapegoat," the absconding diamantaire said.
When asked if he is still interested in settling his dues with PNB, Choksi said, "My brand value has come to zero. Everything I have has been seized. They can sell off my assets and pay whoever has to be paid. They should take it from ED, I am in no position to return any money."
(With PTI inputs)