Nirav Modi - A jeweller who's dressed Hollywood and Bollywood actors including Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra - has become yet another Indian whose finances are in question
Punjab National Bank named jewellery designer Nirav Modi as the prime accused in fraudulent transactions worth USD1.77 billion. Featured in some of the world’s leading international financial dailies and fashion magazines, Modi is a third-generation diamantaire born in India and raised in the Belgian city of Antwerp – the diamond capital of the world. Aspired to be a music conductor, Modi joined the family business of his maternal uncle at Gitanjali Gems Ltd at 19 after dropping the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Modi is No. 85 on Forbes's 2017 list of India's richest people and, at 47, is one of the youngest. He was the first Indian to feature on the cover of a Christie’s auction catalogue in 2010 for a Golconda diamond necklace that fetched USD3.56 million at its auction in Hong Kong.
He is the latest in a long line of Indians accused of financial fraud who fled the country. Others on the list include:
Vijay Mallya: The embattled liquor baron faces several cases in India, where his companies have allegedly defaulted on loans of around USD1.5 billion from Indian banks. In March 2016, several banks approached the Supreme Court to stop Mallya from going abroad before repaying money he owed them. He had, however, left by then. He is still in London and good times continue to be still rolling for him as a UK court just tripled his weekly allowance. He was arrested late last year for an extradition hearing hours after which he was given bail. He called the fuss around his arrest as ‘usual Indian media buzz.’
Lalit Modi: An Indian businessman and cricket administrator, Lalit Modi was the first Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and ran the tournament for three years until 2010. In 2010, Modi let out ownership details of Kochi IPL team, which was going to be a new addition to the series. He was sent show-cause notices for breaching confidentiality and was sacked eventually. He fled to England citing threats to his family’s safety. In 2011, his passport was revoked. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) got a blue corner Interpol notice issued against him for breaching rules related to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) during the time he was the IPL chief. He continues to be in the UK and challenged the ED’s notice in a London court.
Sanjay Bhandari: A defence dealer who became a high-profile defence consultant, Sanjay Bhandari was a liaison services provider and executor of offsets obligations for foreign armament companies after setting up his flagship company Offset India Solutions (OIS) Group in 2008 with a paid-up capital of just INR1 lakh. His business dealings were red-flagged in 2014 after the BJP came to power and caught their eye due to the rapid escalation of the group into a multi-crore venture. The I-T Department had been carrying out an investigation against him and the offset company in a tax evasion case when they stumbled upon the confidential papers and copies of documents of the Defence Ministry during the raids. The documents were allegedly related to defence purchases and proposals placed before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). Earlier this year, a Delhi court declared Bhandari as a proclaimed offender in an Official Secrets Act case related to the recovery of confidential documents of the Ministry of Defence from his residence during an I-T raid in 2016. He is reported to have fled the country via Nepal.
Deepak Talwar: Known for his proximity to politicians, officials and journalists, Corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar is being investigated by the income tax department for undisclosed income amounting to INR1,000 crore in various tax jurisdictions, including tax havens, across the world. According to I-T officials, the investigation shows that undue favour was given to certain airlines and aviation companies under the supervision of senior officials in erstwhile Indian UPA government. He fled India before the cases could go anywhere. He is currently in the UAE, where he has been barred from leaving the country.