New Delhi, February 18: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which continued its probe in Rs 11,400 crore alleged fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) have found at least 200 shell firms and “benami” properties which are under the scanner. These properties are related to diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his relative and business partner Mehul Choksi and others.
On Sunday, the ED continued its searches against fraudulent diamond merchant Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and their companies for the fourth day in a row. The agency is also moving to attach at least two dozen immovable properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED today conducted raids of at least 45 premises, including jewellery showrooms and workshops that belonged to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
“The Income Tax department have attached around 29 properties – of Nirav Modi, his families and companies – which is assessed by the ED under the PMLA. A few more assets will be attached soon under the anti-money laundering act,” a senior ED official said.
In last few days, the ED and the I-T department had zeroed in on about 200 dummy or shell companies in the country and abroad that were being used to route or receive funds as part of the alleged fraud.
According to a report, the ED suspects that the shell firms were being used by the accused to launder money and create “benami” assets in the form of land, gold and precious stones, which is now being probed by the tax department.
Both the ED and the I-T department had formed special teams to investigate the case, sources said.
The ED has seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones worth Rs 5,674 crore till now in the case.
The I-T department yesterday attached nine bank accounts of Gitanjali Gems, its promoter Mehul Choksi and others in connection with a tax evasion probe against them.
It had also attached 29 properties and 105 bank accounts of Modi, his family members and firms owned by them.
Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the fraud recently came to light, following a complaint by the PNB, that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
The CBI is also looking into the matter.
(With inputs from PTI)