New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday morning brought back 108 consignments of polished diamonds, silver jewellery and pearls worth Rs 1,350 crore declared value belonging to diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi from Hong Kong, officials said, adding that it was one of the biggest seizures from abroad.
The agency said that the consignments weighing around 2,340kg were seized in July 2018 with the help of Hong Kong authorities on specific information and was brought to Mumbai on Wednesday after completing legal formalities.
The consignments were sent from Dubai to Hong Kong by the accused in July 2018, the time when the investigation against them was at its peak and they were trying to dispose of their assets, said the officials cited above.
“The authorities were continuously engaged in discussion with various authorities in Hong Kong to bring back these valuables to India. Various modalities were finalised and after completing all the legal formalities these consignments have now been brought back to India,” a statement by the ED said.
The agency will get the jewellery valued independently considering Modi and Choksi used to overvalue all their items in the retail market.
“We believe that it won’t fetch more than Rs 150 crore in the Indian market,” said an officer, who didn’t wish to be named.
“Value of these goods has been declared to be Rs 1,350 crores (approx). These valuables include polished diamonds, pearls, pearl and silver jewelry etc. and were kept in the godown of a logistics company in Hong Kong,” an official statement from the agency said. Earlier, ED had managed to bring 33 consignments of valuables worth Rs 137 crore belonging to Choksi in 2018 from Dubai and Hong Kong.
A second officer lauded Hong Kong authorities for their cooperation in last two years in the Nirav Modi case. “We have had great cooperation from agencies in Hong Kong, who have not only allowed us to seize and bring the valuables to India but shared crucial information about Modi and Choksi’s companies too,” the second officer said.
Another officer said that the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, involving Modi and his uncle Choksi, is the first case where ED has managed to bring property from abroad. The team of ED’s Joint Director in Mumbai Satyabrata Kumar, who also investigated Vijay Mallya case, is responsible for bringing the property back to India.
On Monday, a Mumbai court allowed confiscation of Nirav Modi’s assets worth around Rs 1,400 crore under the newly enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders’ Act.
Both are wanted in Rs 13,578 crore PNB fraud unearthed in early 2018. While Modi is currently lodged in a prison in the UK as his extradition is being pursued by Indian authorities, Choksi is in Antigua and Barbuda.
Modi and Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal refused to comment.