Mumbai: Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is wanted by several probe agencies in India in connection with a Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case, said that he will not return to India as he “fears for his life”.
Conveying this to a special court here, advocate Vijay Agarwal appearing for the absconding jeweller, said the Enforcement Directorate is “guilty of committing a fraud on the court” by concealing Nirav Modi’s communications with the agency.
In one such mail, Nirav Modi told the ED that his “effigy was being burnt and feared mob lynching” if he stepped on Indian soil.
Agarwal backing his client’s concerns said all the information sought by the ED pertains to “finance” and Nirav Modi being a jewellery designer would not have them.
He said his client was not in a position to give such information as the ED sealed his offices, took his employees into custody and computer servers were confiscated.
Agarwal told the court that despite all this, Nirav Modi had continued communicating with the ED as such his client cannot be declared a Fugitive Economic Offender.
In a mail to the ED on February 25, accessed by IANS, Nirav Modi said: “In my last communication, I had pointed out that in view of the extensive media coverage, there are some personal security issues which I am facing, … which have increased manifold.
“I am being harassed to the extent possible, with multiple agencies hounding me and everything that is important to me, my safety, my reputation, my properties etc. are being put in jeopardy.”
“My security threats are genuine and considering the situation in India, wherein, me, without a full drawn trial have been conveniently named as a ‘criminal’, and being treated as if I am already convicted of the alleged offences”, Nirav Modi told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 7 in a mail.
“There have been reports that in Mumbai, a 50-feet effigy of mine was burnt on Holika Dahan, which threatens me to the core. I am scared,” he said.
In his mail to CBI he said that he cannot return to India as his former employees who have not been paid salaries, landlords who have not been paid rents, customers whose jewellery has been confiscated by the CBI and other agencies and several other people have threatened him.
He further said that in fact a lady executive of his organisation was arrested by the CBI illegally in complete disregard to and in violation of Section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.
“When the liberty of a female is not” being taken into account by the investigating agencies, Nirav Modi said how could “my concern for my safety” be guaranteed. He added that he failed to see “the fairness in the process” and his fears were “not misplaced”.
The jeweller also pointed out that all his properties had been attached without any compliance to the law.
In his mail to the CBI, Nirav Modi said that the “lightening speed” with which the Passport Authority acted by revoking his passport, “suggests that the action itself was pre-determined and my fate was already decided as there was no time to consider my reply and there was no apparent regard to the law”.
Earlier in July, his uncle and Gitanjali Group chief Mehul Choksi, who is a co accused in the punjab National Bank fraud case, had cited the “mob lynching” trend in India as one of the main reasons for not returning.
Nirav Modi and Choksi are under probe by both the CBI and the ED. The ED launched the money laundering investigation against Nirav Modi and others on February 15 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI. Non-bailable warrants have been issued against them.
The Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal and sister Purvi — both Belgian citizens — as well as Mihir Bhansali and Aditya Nanvati, his close associates.
However, an RCN request against Choksi, who acquired Antiguan citizenship earlier in 2018, is pending with the Interpol.