New Delhi: The NDA government has taken “strictest” and “fastest” action against jeweller Nirav Modi accused of duping the state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) of thousands of crores but the Congress was doing politics over national interest, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Prasad said that the scam started in 2011 when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in power and is the “latest in line in the legacy of corruption and fraudulence left by the Congress Party”.
He said that the agencies are already taking action against Nirav Modi who fled the country.
“The ED (Enforcement Directorate) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) are already in action against Nirav Modi. ED has already raided nine properties associated with Nirav Modi, three in Surat, four in Mumbai and two in Delhi. Assets worth Rs 1,300 crore have been seized. Action has been taken to initiate revocation of his passport,” Prasad said.
He added the CBI is also raiding 20 locations associated with him and has seized his Mumbai residence.
He said that the CBI first received a complain from PNB pertaining to Rs 280 crore on January 29 this year and a case was registered on January 31. Lookout notice was issued on February 1.
“The Prime Minister had said in the Lok Sabha that our government has not given any loans that have become NPA (Non Performing Assets). The legacy of NPAs comes from the Congress,” he said, claiming that it was a “well known fact” that Nirav Modi was close to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“The genesis of the scam was in 2011 and interesting thing to note is that the total income of Geetanjali Jewels almost doubled within a span of 2 years between 2011 and 2013. Geetanjali Jewels — a company owned by Mehul Choski who is also one of the partners along with Nirav Modi in the firms booked for fraud by PNB,” Prasad said.
Prasad also questioned Congress’ right to comment on the incident, claiming that their government allowed liquor baron Vijay Mallya to run away with around Rs 9,000 crore which he had taken as loan from 17 Indian banks.
He also slammed the Congress for referring to Nirav Modi as “chhota Modi”. “Rahul Gandhi is the President of a party not because of his capability but because of his family. What kind of language are they using?”
He denied the incident will taint the Prime Minister’s image, saying PM Modi “has the blessing of the people of India”.
The Congress on Thursday asked the Modi government to come clean on the government’s “failure” to prevent the scam and identify those who helped the alleged kingpin, billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi to flee the country.
It accused the Prime Minister’s Office and other authorities of not taking action even after a complaint was filed in July 2016.