New Delhi: The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Surat, on Wednesday, issued an order declaring fugitive diamantaire and Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam accused Nirav Modi as an absconder in a case filed against him by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for allegedly evading customs duty on import of diamonds and pearls.
Modi was declared an absconder under Section 82 Cr.P.C. in the case. A case of diversion of diamonds and pearls from Special Economic Zone (SEZ) units in Surat by Modi was booked in December 2014, by the DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit.
The case was about the diversion of duty-free imported goods by the SEZ units of Nirav Modi's companies in Surat - Firestar International Pvt. Ltd., Firestar Diamond International Pvt. Ltd. and Radashir Jewellery Comp. Pvt. Ltd. These units were allegedly into import and export of diamonds, pearls and jewellery.
In the units situated at SEZ, the goods were allowed to be imported customs duty-free for the purpose of export. However, during the investigation by the DRI, it was revealed that the duty-free diamonds and pearls imported by Modi's companies were clandestinely diverted into the local market and substituted by the locally procured diamonds and pearls. The companies had allegedly paid Rs. 48.21 crores (customs duty along with interest and penalty) in that case.
During the investigation, the DRI had also seized the export consignments ready for dispatch for Hong Kong and Dubai, lying at Sahar Air Cargo in Mumbai, which was highly overvalued. The department filed prosecution in the Surat Court against Modi for his alleged role in the evasion of customs duty.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate had issued an arrest warrant against Modi on June 22. As he was not available at his known addresses, the court proclaimed the fugitive jeweller as an absconder. This will enable the DRI in addition to other things to attach his properties.
On October 1, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets worth Rs 637 crore belonging to Modi in connection with the PNB scam.
Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi have been accused of allegedly defrauding PNB of USD 2 billion. While Choksi is in Antigua, Modi is in the United Kingdom and needs to be extradited as non-bailable warrants have been issued by different courts against him.