ED gets back jewellery worth ₹ 85 crore stashed by Ni­rav firm in Dubai godown

Two Com­pany Staffers Told To ‘Im­port’ Stuff

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Vi­jayV.Singh@ times­group.com

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.

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