Co-accused in the Rs 13,540 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, diamond merchant Mehul Choksi told CBI that “exaggerated” allegations by multiple investigating agencies have left him “completely defenceless” and that he feared for his safety to return home.
In a new letter to the investigating agency CBI, Choksi denied being a partner of Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports.
These firms have been accused of conducting fraudulent transactions with Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International owned his nephew Nirav Modi, who is also an accused in the PNB fraud.
Reiterating that it was “impossible” for him to return to India, Choksi said his health condition was not conducive and that his passport remained suspended. “Till date, the Regional Passport Office (in Mumbai) hasn’t communicated with me and my passport remains suspended. I have the deepest respect for your offices and assure you that I am not making any excuse, whatsoever, to travel to India.
He said various actions by multiple agencies taken against him and “the manner in which the allegations have been exaggerated has left me completely defenceless”.
The promoter of the Gitanjali Gems had earlier also raised similar issues. Earlier this month, in a detailed e-mail reply to the CBI’s notice seeking his appearance, Choksi had said he was not in a position to travel as his passport has been suspended by the authorities and he was undergoing medical treatment.
“I want to assure your good office and good self that I am in no manner dictating the terms of my appearance. However, as my passport stands suspended by the Regional Passport Office under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act, it is impossible for me to travel back to India,” the 7-page letter had said.
Choksi and designer diamond jewellery businessman Nirav Modi and others are being investigated by the CBI and ED after the bank fraud recently came to light, following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank The CBI and the ED have registered two FIRs each to probe the case.
(With agencies inputs)