A special team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from India has reached Singapore to collect evidence against the fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi, who is wanted in a USD2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case. Interpol has recently issued a red corner notice against him.
The two-member Indian financial investigation agency team is in Singapore to convince the authorities that Nirav Modi is a criminal under a money laundering case. Sources reveal that Singapore authorities have began communicating with the Indian agency after responding to a Letter Rogatory (LR) but they are still not convinced that Nirav Modi is an economic offender and criminal under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED officials are in the Lion City to convince the authorities concerned and seek evidence against the fugitive. The visit is related to LR queries and some old cases related discussions in Nirav Modi's case.
It is alleged that Nirav Modi and his associates used some banks accounts in Singapore for money laundering. He had set up an outlet there.
ED is also probing the role of a Singapore-based company whose beneficiary owner was alleged to be Modi’s sister, Purvi Mehta. Her financial dealings were also being scrutinised under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It is also alleged that Nirav Modi’s company Firestar International had received funds to the tune of INR2,710 million (USD39.6 million) from the company Islington International Pte Ltd.
The agency also suspected that Nirav Modi wanted to obtain the status of a Permanent Resident (SPR) in Singapore and for that he had submitted an application before the Singaporean authorities. Not only that, he was also seeking a Singapore passport.
Nirav Modi and the owner of Gitanjali Gems, Mehul Choksi, have been accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank. Both are wanted by multiple Indian investigating agencies after PNB complained against their companies, saying it had been cheated of INR135 billion (SGD2.69 billion) through fraudulent issue of Letter of Undertakings (LoUs). Both left India in January, a few weeks before the scam came to light.
In another development, the Interpol branch in Washington had informed the Indian agencies that Choksi was currently not in the United States.