The US government is aware of the media reports that diamond jeweller Nirav Modi is in the country but is unable to confirm them, a State Department official said today. Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 12,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank. “We are aware of recent media reports that Nirav Modi is in the United States but cannot confirm them,” the spokesperson told PTI when asked about reports that the Indian businessman is in New York.
Asked if the department is providing any assistance to the Indian government in tracing Modi, the spokesperson said, “We refer you to the Department of Justice for questions on legal assistance to the Indian authorities in relation to their investigation of Mr. Modi”. The Department of Justice declined to comment on Modi. Modi and his associates allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from PNB’s Brady House branch in Fort area for overseas credit from other lenders.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have registered two FIRs each in this case. Modi, his family, and Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, left the country in early January, much before the CBI received a complaint from the PNB. On being asked by the CBI to join its investigation into the alleged fraud, Modi refused, saying he has “business abroad”.
The CBI then directed him to contact the embassy of India in a country where he is staying so that his travel to India can be arranged. A Look Out Circular (LoC), also known as a blue corner notice, has already been issued against Modi and Choksi to keep a tab on their entry at all land, air and sea ports in India.