Mumbai: Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s son Rohin Modi told the Bombay High Court here Monday that a few of the properties seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam belong to a trust owned by him. Rohin Modi said the properties were not purchased with alleged proceeds of crime. Rohin Modi’s lawyer made the submission before a division bench of Justices SS Jadhav and NJ Jamadar.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appeared for the ED. He argued that though some of the properties in question are owned by the Rohin Trust, the purchasing amount for them was paid by Nirav Modi. The latter along with wife Ami Modi is a key accused in the PNB scam.
The division bench was hearing a petition filed by Rohin Modi challenging confiscation of properties purportedly belonging to the Rohin Trust.
June 8, a special court set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) ordered confiscation of movable and immovable properties belonging to Nirav Modi. The order was passed in accordance with section 12 of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act on an application filed by the ED.
Nirav Modi was, in December 2019, declared an ‘economic fugitive offender’ under the Act.
The properties ordered to be confiscated include bank accounts in India and England, residential and commercial properties in India, the UAE and the UK, allegedly purchased by Nirav Modi from proceeds of crime.
Rohin’s advocate Abhimanyu Bhandari told the high court that a flat in the iconic ‘Samudra Mahal’ building in Worli in south Mumbai and several other immovable properties are owned by the Rohin Trust.
The flat was purchased in the year 2006 and not (from) proceeds of crime. The adjudicating authority (the special court) ought to have heard Rohin Modi before ordering confiscation of those properties (both movable and immovable), that are owned by the Rohin Trust, Bhandari said.
He urged the HC to direct the ED to maintain status quo vis–vis the properties owned by the Rohin Trust and to not auction them so that Rohin could approach the special court seeking to be heard.
ED’s counsel, Singh, however, opposed the plea. He said all the confiscated properties were purchased using proceeds of crime as they were purchased by Nirav and his wife Ami Modi.
“This (petition filed by Rohin Modi) is just a means used by Nirav Modi to protect some of his properties. Nirav Modi fled the country as soon as the scam came to light and has not returned. He refused to cooperate with the investigation. A sum of Rs 6,498 crore has been laundered,” Singh said.
Nirav Modi is currently lodged in a UK jail after being arrested in London in March 2019.
The bench, after hearing arguments, posted the petition for passing orders August 13.