Interpol has issued a red corner notice (RCN) against Purvi Modi, a Belgian national and sister of absconding billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, in connection with the alleged $2 billion PNB money laundering case, officials said Monday.
The notice, which acts as an international arrest warrant, states that Purvi Deepak Modi, 44, is required on charges of “money laundering”.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), the central agency probing the case along with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has charged Purvi Modi with playing “a major role in laundering the proceeds of crime generated from the PNB scam and being a beneficiary of the scam to the tune of at least $133 million (over Rs 950 crore)”.
“She is also the owner/director of several shell or investment companies formed solely for the purpose to launder the proceeds of crime in companies located in the UAE, British Virgin Islands and Singapore,” the agency said in its probe report.
The ED wants her to join investigations to take the probe in the case forward and had sought a global warrant against her as she did not comply with summons issued in this context, officials said.
The agency named her in the first charge sheet filed in the case before a Mumbai court in March and charged her with laundering the alleged proceeds of crime generated by defrauding the Brady House branch of the Punjab National Bank in Mumbai.
The ED had alleged the overseas companies linked to her, a number of them dubious or bogus, were “formed and managed in a very complex manner to camouflage the criminal origin of funds in these companies”.
Some trusts incorporated for money laundering, such as Montecristo Trust, Ithaca Trust, New Zealand Trust, were found to be associated with Purvi Modi, the ED has charged.
Bank accounts were opened in her name, in the name of her companies and in overseas jurisdictions like Barbados, Mauritius, Switzerland, Singapore, United Kingdom and Hong Kong, the ED probe found.
“Funds stolen from PNB to the tune of more than Rs 500 crore were invested in Firestar India via foreign direct investment after layering through these companies. She was also the beneficiary of Dubai and Hong Kong-based dummy companies in which LOUs (letters of undertaking) were credited.
“Later on, her name was removed from these companies and dummy directors were introduced there. Therefore, she actively participated in the crime of money laundering and layering of the money thus acquired and was also the beneficiary of the proceeds of crime,” the ED claimed.
Once an RCN is issued against a fugitive, Interpol asks its 192 member countries to arrest or detain the person if spotted in their countries after which extradition or deportation proceedings can begin.
A similar Interpol notice was recently issued against Mihir R Bhansali, a top executive of Nirav Modi’s US business concern, on charges of money laundering.
A similar notice was also issued against Nirav Modi sometime back as part of a joint probe by the ED and the CBI in the case. India has now moved for his extradition from the UK.
The case pertains to cheating the state-run Punjab National Bank through fraudulent issuance of LoUs and Foreign Letters of Credit worth over USD 2 billion (about Rs 13,000 crore) allegedly by Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi in connivance with few bank and other government officials. Nirav Modi and Choksi have been absconding since the beginning of this year.
Separately, the CBI has sought the extradition of Nirav Modi’s brother and Belgian national Neeshal Modi. A request has been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for necessary action, an official said on Monday.
“The request for extradition of Neeshal Modi from Belgium was shared with the MHA on Friday. It will be forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs for further action,” the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official said.
The CBI has filed a charge sheet against Neeshal Modi and says his extradition is necessary for investigation in the Punjab National Bank fraud of over Rs 13,500 crore.
According to the CBI official, the extradition process was initiated after Neeshal Modi was spotted in Belgium. The Interpol had in July issued a Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi, Neeshal and Nirav Modi company’s executive Subhash Parab following the CBI request in connection with the PNB fraud.