Fugitive billionaire Nirav Modi wanted in Rs. 14,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam case, being spotted in London, is a shot in the arm for the opposition which slammed the Centre for its “failure” to bring back the accused to justice while he apparently thrived elsewhere.
The opposition attack came after a video released by the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper showed Nirav Modi walking freely on the London streets.
Hitting out at the government, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a video message, “Today, the fugitive diamantaire ‘chota Modi’ Nirav Modi has been traced to London — living a luxurious life in a Rs 75 crore flat and wearing a jacket worth 10,000 British Pound.”
“It is right Modiji (Narendra Modi), first rob Rs 23,000 crore from the banks; escape the country without any problem and then ridicule the investigative agencies like the CBI and the ED.
“Impossible is possible under Modi. It seems that Modiji is running Bank Fraudster Settlement Company. In five years Rs 1 lakh crore has been robbed by the fugitives and you were unable to catch them.
“You promised to bring back Rs 80,000 crore black money but instead you allowed Rs 1 lakh crore to be robbed from the banks. It is because Modi hai to mumkin hai (Impossible is possible, under Modi),” he said.
In the video, Nirav Modi wore a changed look — with a handlebar moustache and long hair. He is also seen avoiding every question posed at him, saying “no comment”.
The Telegraph report further stated that Nirav Modi against whom a Red Corner Notice has been issued by the Interpol has been living in the city’s West End area and has even started a new diamond business.
An extradition request against Modi is pending since last September before the UK authorities.
On February 26, the Enforcement Directorate attached properties of Nirav Modi and his associate companies to the tune of Rs 147 crore in connection with its ongoing probe into the case.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under probe by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED. The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on February 15 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
The ED has till date attached properties worth Rs 4,765 crore of Choksi and Nirav Modi.
The scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January, after which PNB officials reported it to the probe agencies.
Non-bailable warrants were issued against Nirav Modi and Choksi. Also, an Interpol ‘red corner’ arrest warrant was issued against Nirav Modi on the ED’s request, who along with his family as well as uncle Choksi left the country in January, a month before the fraud came to light.
(With agency inputs)