Nirav Modi's wife named accused for moving $30 mn in PNB fraud case; ED to move red corner notice against her

Pratik Salunke and Charul Shah
ED sources said the funds laundered by Ami, wife of absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, were used to buy property in the plush Central Park area in New York. In the United States, the agency traced two immovable properties, both of which have been attached...

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday named absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi’s wife Ami as an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) money laundering case for the first time.

In its latest supplementary charge sheet, the ED said Ami had used an international bank account to move $30 million (Rs 209 crore approximately). “We have established her role in money-laundering,” said a high-ranking ED officer. “The funds were siphoned off using fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) issued from PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai,” the officer said.

The central anti-money laundering agency will now issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) — an international arrest warrant — against Ami, who is believed to be living in the United States. Last week, UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph released a video showing a different-looking Nirav Modi on the streets of London, where he has had a diamond store since 2014.

ED sources said the funds that Ami laundered were used to buy property in the plush Central Park area in New York. In the United States, the agency traced two immovable properties, both of which have been attached earlier .

In the supplementary charge sheet filed on Monday, ED also claimed Nirav Modi’s brother Nehal Modi bribed the director of one of their dummy companies to give false testimony to judicial authorities in Europe. The ED said Ashish Lad, the director of one of the group companies called Unity Trading FZE, said in his statement that Nehal Modi had threatened the employees too. “Lad was paid Rs 2 million in lieu of tendering false testimony before judicial authorities of Europe,” the ED said in its charge sheet.

The ED said Lad also claimed the family threatened to kill him or book him in false cases, if he revealed anything to agencies. The agency said that once agencies started probing Nirav Modi and his empire over money-laundering and corruption charges, Nehal Modi got personally involved in influencing witnesses and destroying accounts and records. It said Nehal Modi siphoned off 50 kg gold from Firestar Diamond’s Dubai branch and 150 boxes of pearls from the Hong Kong companies, apart from cash. The agency claimed Nehal Modi also got funds to the tune of $48.1 million (Rs 335.95 crore).

Nehal Modi, along with another aide of Nirav Modi’s Mihir Bhansali, threatened the employees not to reveal anything and even asked them to shift to Cairo, the ED said.

ED also said Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Mehta played a crucial role in layering and laundering money from the Dubai and Hong Kong companies to various accounts in the US. The funds laundering through Purvi and other family members were used to acquire properties in foreign countries, the ED said in its charge sheet. It has also found a money trail from Nirav Modi’s father, Deepak Modi’s account. “We have found money trail in Deepak Modi’s account. We are investigating where the money has gone,” said the officer adding, “Deepak Modi’s role has been established through his personal account and dummy companies. There has been layering of funds.”

ED has accused Deepak Modi of intentionally participating in assisting in money-laundering, and destroying evidence. The supplementary charge-sheet has pegged the value of the entire scam as Rs 6,500-crore; the agency has attached and seized properties worth Rs 2,500 crore.