The Nirav Modi saga never ceases to surprise. After numerous reports suggested that the absconding celebrity jeweller may be hiding in Hong Kong, a new twist has emerged on his current whereabouts. The investigative agencies looking for Nirav Modi have found that the fugitive diamantaire traversed across West Asia, East Asia, Europe and America within four months.
According to a Government of India dossier, Nirav Modi, prime accused in the Rs 13,700 crore PNB fraud, escaped the country by taking a flight from Mumbai to UAE in January. In the third week of March, Modi left for Hong Kong, where he has assets and boutiques. When the government approached the Hong Kong authorities for his arrest, Modi fled to London, and finally to the US. His last known location was New York. Nirav Modi was seen around the city’s Loews Regency hotel.
The government had earlier submitted a request to Hong Kong authorities for provisional arrest of Nirav Modi indicating that the diamantaire may be holed up in Hong Kong. It is suspected that Nirav Modi is having a Belgian passport in addition to his Indian passport.
India Today TV had earlier reported that Modi’s companies in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong had replaced their directors with an American citizen. At least three companies owned by Nirav Modi have undergone a major revamp, and all three directors of these companies have been replaced with Anthony Allicock, a New Jersey resident, the report had said.
Nirav Modi’s business in the UK is handled by Nirav Modi Ltd, while its Hong Kong operations come under Firestar Diamond Ltd and Nirav Modi Ltd. All three companies are controlled by Firestar Holdings, which in turn is controlled by Firestar International Ltd. Nirav Modi is a majority shareholder in all these companies.
The development comes at a time when Punjab National Bank (PNB) put out an advertisement asking private detective agencies to find the absconding loan defaulters. The hired sleuths will be tasked with ascertaining leads on the whereabouts of NPA defaulters who are not available at the addresses given in the bank’s records.
Submitting a written response on Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s whereabouts in Rajya Sabha earlier this month, Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs VK Singh had said: “The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Peoples Republic of China, for which a request has been submitted to them on March 23, 2018.”
China had also stated that Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within China, can consider India’s request to arrest the PNB fraud accused based on local laws and mutual judicial assistance agreements between Hong Kong and India.
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