MUMBAI: Punjab National Bank (PNB) has not yet recovered any money from fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi both of whom collectively owe around Rs 15,400 crore to the bank.
Earlier the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had auctioned some of their attached assets, including expensive paintings. ED officials stated that the “amount Rs 60 crore realised from auction has been deposited as fixed deposits as per the court direction”. The bank can move the competent court to claim its right over the assets, said an official. The bank can also approach a special court to claim assets worth Rs 1,000 crore that the Enforcement Directorate has confiscated under the Fugitive Economic Offender Act in the case against Nirav and Mehul.
Right To Information (RTI) activist Jeetendra Ghadge got information from PNB that shows that Mehul Choksi owes Rs 8,000 crore and Nirav Rs 7,400 crore.
Nirav had cheated the bank of Rs 6,600 crore and Mehul Rs 6,400 crore through fraudulent transactions (collectively worth Rs 13,000 crore). The interest amount keeps adding to the actual amount, said an official who had probed the case.
Few months ago, PNB refused to share the information under RTI, stating that “disclosure of which impedes the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders”. Ghadge went into appeal where the bank provided him part of the requested information.
The bank refused to share details of the seized properties and also the payment that it made to the legal firm that it had engaged in the case. The bank stated that it has not spent any money on foreign trips of its officials in relation to the case against Nirav and Mehul.
Ghadge said, “The money involved in the scam does not belong to PNB bank, it belongs to the country. Ultimately, we have lost 15,423 crore which would have helped us build hospitals, infrastructure etc. It is unfortunate that 3 years on we are neither able to nab the offenders nor recover our money.”