New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 23: Billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi on Thursday replied to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) saying that he could not appear before it as his passport has been suspended. As Nirav Modi failed to appear and depose, the ED issued fresh summons and seized shares, deposits and luxury cars worth over Rs 100 crore. Nirav Modi, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group, is being investigated for over Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB).

In his email reply to the ED, Nirav Modi said that he “cannot depose before the agency now as his passport has been temporarily suspended”. Modi and Choksi were summoned for questioning in connection with the PNB fraud case last week under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). According to sources, he had now been asked to join the investigation and appear before the central probe agency in Mumbai on February 26. Choksi, who has been summoned for tomorrow, will also be issued a fresh summons if he fails to appear.

Earlier on Thursday, the ED intensified a crackdown on Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi groups. The agency seized a Rolls Royce Ghost, two Mercedes Benz GL series, a Porsche Panamera, three Hondas, a Toyota Fortuner and an Innova. The agency also froze mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore of Nirav Modi and Rs 86.72 crore belonging to his uncle Choksi. The Income Tax department attached property worth Rs 1,200 crore of the Gitanjali Group located in Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Hyderabad.

The total seizure in the case stands now at Rs 5,826 crore, the ED officials said. The agency’s action comes in the wake of its ongoing probe against the two and many others, including directors of their companies and bank officials for the alleged bank fraud. Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit were used to raise and rollover the amount over several years before an FIR was lodged by the bank on January 29 and February 14. The FIR has named two former bank employees for alleged direct involvement in the fraudulent transactions.

Three companies of the Gitanjali Group were also named in the second CBI FIR for allegedly defrauding PNB of Rs 4,886 crore. Both Modi and Choksi, along with other family members, were said to have left the country in early January. The PNB asked Modi to come up with a concrete and implementable plan to repay the Rs 11,300 crore loan his companies have borrowed by fraudulent issuance of Letter of Undertakings (LoU).

“You were getting LoUs issued illegally and in an unauthorized way through few bank officials. At no stage such facilities were extended by our bank to your three partner firms,” said the mail sent by PNB General Manager (international banking division) Ashwini Vats to Nirav Modi, as reported by news agency Press Trust of India, citing sources. This was in response to Modi’s letter in which he accused PNB of shutting the doors on the recovery process by “destroying his brand and business”. (With agency inputs)