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08 Feb 2018

After steep rise, Nirav Modi stares at a sharp downfall

Nirav Modi's rise and fall

When he was young, India's premier jeweler Nirav Modi aspired to be a music conductor, but that was not to be.

However, fate was kind as he rose up the ladder fast.

Things have taken an about-turn. He is now at the center of a Rs. 11,400cr fraud and under active investigation.

Will his empire break as fast as it had risen?

In context

Nirav Modi's rise and fall
Modi's diamond experience began with stint in uncle's business


Modi's diamond experience began with stint in uncle's business

Modi was born in India but grew up in Belgium, the world's diamond capital, with a family that dealt in diamond trade.

Despite having nurtured dreams of becoming a music conductor, the 19-year-old Wharton dropout ended up joining his uncle Mehul Choksi, Gitanjali Gems chairman, in business.

It was those nine years at Gitanjali that laid the foundation for his own brand.


But his claim to fame came by chance

His first company was Firestar, a diamond sourcing-trading company established in 1999.

But he took to designing by chance, when in 2009, a friend persuaded him to make a pair of earrings. It took him months.

Within a year, he had become the first Indian to be featured on the cover of a Christie's auction catalogue for his Golconda necklace, which fetched $3.56mn.

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A few years of global laurels


A few years of global laurels

That was just the start. In 2012, his Riviere Diamond Necklace sold for $5.1mn at a Sotheby's auction.

The next year, he debuted in Forbes' list of billionaires.

His clientele includes the uber rich in the glamor world. Titanic actor Kate Winslet wore his creations at the 2016 Oscars Red Carpet.

His company now has stores in London, New York, Hong Kong and more.


Modi and some bank employees cheated PNB of Rs. 11,400cr

In 2017, Modi was ranked 1,234th in Forbes' world billionaires' list, and 95th in India. He is worth $1.73bn.

But in January end, CBI probed his role in a Rs. 11,400cr money-laundering racket along with some officials from Punjab National Bank (PNB).

According to PNB, Gitanjali uses similar tactics to avail guarantee or comfort letters. However, Gitanjali said Choksi wasn't involved in Modi's scams.

Modi had left country before FIR was filed


Modi had left country before FIR was filed

Modi has been under the scanner of the CBI, ED I-T and DRI for various frauds, including diversion of imported duty-free diamonds, since 2014.

Choksi is also one of the accused in the ongoing CBI investigation.

Reports say he left the country days before an FIR was filed last month. There's speculation he had political help.

For now, India's reputed jeweler undergoes thorough investigation.

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