Mehul Choksi's properties are money laundering assets: PMLA Authority
A designated PMLA authority has held that 41 properties worth about Rs. 1,210 crore, attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the name of absconding diamond jeweler Mehul Choksi and his associated firms, are money laundering assets. It has also ordered that their attachment should continue. The order has been issued by Member (Law) of the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA, Tushar V Shah.
Properties that have been provisionally attached by ED
The ED provisionally attached 15 flats and 17 office premises in Mumbai, a Kolkata mall, an Alibaug farm-house, 231 acres of land at Nashik, Nagpur, Panvel in Maharashtra and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu, in Feb'2018 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). These properties were attached in connection with the $2bn alleged fraud at a Mumbai-based branch of the Punjab National Bank.
Immovable properties provisionally attached by ED involved in money laundering
"Immovable properties provisionally attached are all involved in money-laundering," Shah's order stated. "I, therefore, hereby confirm the attachment of properties...and order that the said attachment shall continue during investigation...not exceeding ninety days or the pendency of proceedings relating to any offense under the PMLA before a court and become final after an order of confiscation is passed by the special court," it added.
Criminal probe against Choksi and his companies under PMLA
Official sources said the ED will now move to seize these properties and put up its possession signages at these locations. The central probe agency had issued a provisional order for the attachment of these assets as part of its criminal probe against Choksi, his company Gitanjali Gems Limited and associated firms and their associates, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)
Park in Telangana, flats in Mumbai among attached assets
The attached assets included a 170-acre park in Telangana's Ranga Reddy district valued at over Rs. 500 crore. In Mumbai, four flats in Borivali (east) and nine others in Khemu Towers in Santacruz (east) have also been attached as part of the action. "The total value of the 41 seized assets controlled by Choksi is estimated over Rs. 1,210 crore," the ED had said.
Choksi, Nirav Modi involved in Rs. 12,000cr PNB fraud
Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi, and others are being investigated by ED and other agencies after the PNB fraud came to light this year. They allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of Rs. 12,000cr, with the purported involvement of some PNB employees. ED and CBI registered two FIRs each to probe the case. Choksi and Modi left India before criminal cases were lodged.
Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi denied any wrongdoing
Choksi and Modi had denied any wrongdoing. Choksi is currently based in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and India has sought his extradition from that country. The ED, a central probe agency under the Union Finance Ministry, is investigating if the allegedly defrauded bank funds were laundered and proceeds of crime were subsequently used by the accused to create illegal assets and black money.