Nirav Modi's sister, brother-in-law turn approvers, will testify against him
Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's younger sister and brother-in-law have turned approvers in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case and will now testify against him after a special court in Mumbai accepted their request seeking a pardon on Monday. Purvi Mehta and her husband Maiank Mehta told the court they wanted to distance themselves from Modi. Here's what went down.
The Mehtas have been named as co-accused in two cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The central agency said it had no objections to the couple becoming prosecution witnesses, but added the same benefit shouldn't be extended to companies/entities that have been labeled as accused. While allowing their request, Special Judge VC Barde asked them to make true disclosures.
In the application, they said the travel restrictions due to the pandemic stopped them from coming to India, but they could record their statements via video conferencing. They offered to testify before a magistrate as well. Purvi, a Belgian citizen, and Maiank, a British national, told being linked to the scam proved disastrous for their "professional lives." It came to a standstill, they underlined.
Purvi and Maiank said as Modi's close relatives they can contribute to the probe. ED has claimed that Modi's sister held senior positions in companies based in Dubai and Hong Kong, that received money from the beleaguered businessman. He is believed to have diverted Rs. 1,201.18 crore through Purvi. But she maintained she wasn't aware of these transactions and distanced herself from proceeds of crime.
"The applicant undertakes to be examined as a witness in this court and submits that he/she will make true and full disclosure of the whole of the circumstances and events as known to him/her, without concealing any evidence," their pleas read.
Notably, ED underlined that the applicants can help in prosecuting the mastermind and attaching "more proceeds of crime in India and abroad." While speaking to India Today in 2018, Maiank claimed he had no clue about Modi's criminal activities. "We could never imagine [that Modi could be involved in such a scam]. We ourselves are trying to understand the whole issue," he had said.
"Facts are facts and it can't be ruled out. We don't want our family to be connected to this in any way. My children still ask me why uncle is in the news," Maiank, who is reportedly in Hong Kong, had said.
Modi, who headed the luxurious brand Nirav Modi, is the prime accused in the Rs. 13,700 crore scam. His uncle Mehul Choksi is also named as an accused. The 49-year-old settled in the United Kingdom after the scam surfaced and was arrested in March 2020 after a journalist tracked him down. He is lodged in a London jail and is facing two extradition requests.