ED gets back jewellery worth ₹ 85 crore stashed by Nirav firm in Dubai godown
Two Company Staffers Told To ‘Import’ Stuff
Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) adopted an unconventional method to get scam-tainted Gitanjali Gems to recently bring back 34,000 pieces of diamond and gold jewellery, valued at Rs85 crore and stashed away in a Dubai godown, to India before attaching these as the proceeds of crime. Two employees of the company were asked to ‘import’ this jewellery, which was then attached by the department.
The ED is probing a Rs12,700 crore money laundering case pertaining to the Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) scam perpetrated by Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi in connivance with officials of the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
This is probably the first time the ED has adopted such amethod to secure the valuables before the accused could move them to a different location. Usually, the agency requests the enforcement authorities in the country concerned for assistance in such cases.
In this case, the agency le-
After a few days, bank files cheating case with CBI against Nirav, Choksi arnt through their sources about the ornaments stored in a godown of a group company, Gitanjali Ventures, in Dubai. They asked one of Choksi’s employees here to summon the custodian of the godown to Mumbai and then gathered details about the jewellery. They convinced them to bring back the jewellery as anormal import.
The employees were initially reluctant as they insisted that they could move the jewellery only on Choksi’s instructions. But ED officials told them that through their network they had ensured that the jewellery was not shifted from the godown. To avoid their arrest in the case, the two employees then agreed to import the jewellery to India.
Afterwards, the employees told ED officials that no customs house agent (CHA) was ready to import the jewellery because of the fear of action by investigating agencies. The ED officials then had several rounds of meetings with a CHA, who finally agreed. The officials coordinated with other agencies to ensure that the valuables did not get lost in transit and attached them once they were brought before the customs department for clearance.
Choksi had devised a modus operandi under which the Indian entities of his companies imported unfinished goods/raw material like diamonds, colour stones and pearls, among others, from his overseas entities situated mainly in Hong Kong and the UAE.
The same goods were shown to be processed and made into jewellery and again exported by the Indian entities of Choksi to his overseas entities.
“They indulged in circular trading where the same set of goods were imported and exported repeatedly,” an officer said. This would translate into higher turnover, which would help them in obtaining a higher loan from the bank. In some cases, they exported finished ornaments from India to Dubai and from there would divert these to Hong Kong without clearing the customs at Dubai.