On October 25, 2018, Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed that it has attached Rs 255 crore worth of property belonging to Nirav Modi who is allegedly involved in the PNB scam. He is currently out of the country evading the law enforcement agencies. It is one among the series of actions taken by ED against Nirav Modi and his companions. On October 17, 2018, ED had attached various assets & valuables (cut and polished diamonds) worth Rs 218.46 Crore under the PNB scam case belonging to Mihir Bhansali, A. P. Gems & Jewellery Park, Hyderabad, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi & others. All the seizures by ED put together so far in the PNB scam is worth Rs 4744 crore.
All these stringent measures taken by ED sends across a strong message for all the defaulters who evade Indian law enforcement agencies with a belief that everything will settle in some time and according to their benefit as the agencies will gradually lose interest in the case. The message is that the law will catch them and their assets, business, and reputation will be at stake if they try to get away with the fraud.
Administration Believed in Action, while Opposition was Spreading Misinformation
To begin with, the whole PNB scam was related to the previous UPA administration as it all started back in 2011 when some PNB employees reportedly issued fake letters of undertaking (LoUs) for firms owned by Nirav Modi and his family. Our article PNB Fraud: A Fact-Check on the Timeline and Action Taken sets the record straight on this topic. But the opposition, Congress Party consistently tried to blame the entire scam on the Modi Government, accusing them of safeguarding the interest of Nirav Modi. With this allegation, Congress tried to hide the fact that the NPA (Non-Performing Asset) problem is actually the UPA Government’s creation. This has been explained in our article Dear Mr Yechury, Here is the Full Story on Bad Loans and NPAs with all the facts and figures.
As soon as the details of the PNB scam emerged, the Modi Government took all the necessary measures to curb such frauds. It took an immediate measure of putting the suspected defaulters on the No-fly list. Moreover, as a larger policy intervention, it approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Bill, 2018, which made the process of confiscating the properties of a person declared as a ‘Fugitive Economic Offender’ simpler. All these have been explained in our article Post-PNB: Checking All the Boxes to Catch Defaulters.
ED Seizure of Nirav’s Property & its Significance
Cut to the present, the news of ED’s seizure of Nirav Modi and his associates’ property that is standing at a total worth of Rs 4744 crore till date, conveys a story of persistence and determination on the part of the administration in bringing the alleged fraudsters to the book.
Nirav’s property seized on October 25 was in foreign land, Hong Kong. ED has previously attached Nirav’s property in USA and UK as well. All these needed following complex protocols as the property in question were under the jurisdiction of a foreign land.
Here, we present some of the newspaper clippings from the subsequent dateline which will provide an account as to how the administration pursued the matter.
A PTI report dated February 16, 2018, documented how ED and CBI have tightened the noose around Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi.
India Today report from February 26, 2018, said that, “A special court has allowed Enforcement Directorate (ED) to issue letters rogatory to several countries including Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, US, UK, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of Nirav Modi.”
Thus, all the above-mentioned sequence of events emphasizes on the fact that all the defaulters and economic offenders will be forced to pay back for their misdeeds under the current administration, unlike under the previous UPA Government. Nirav Modi’s PNB case and the actions taken by the Government present a bright example of the same.