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Rekha Dixit
Rekha Dixit

MONEY LAUNDERING

Passports of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi suspended

INDIA-ECONOMY-BANK-JEWELLERY-FRAUD A supporter of the Congress party keeps his hand on the face of a cut out of billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi during a protest in New Delhi | AFP

Diamantaire Nirav Modi is not in touch with anyone in the external affairs ministry and no one here has any idea of his whereabouts, said Raveesh Kumar, the official spokesperson of the MEA on Friday.

Modi, along with his wife and his business partner and uncle Mehul Choksi, is absconding from the country following the unearthing of a Rs 280 crore banking scam. There are reports that he is in a five star hotel in New York, residing in a three bedroom suite. 

The MEA has revoked passports of both Modi and Choksi for four weeks. Announcing the suspension, a ministry statement said, "On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the passport issuing authority in the MEA has today suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967."

Modi and Choksi have been asked to respond within a week. "If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation," the statement said.

Modi's wife reportedly has an American passport and his brother a Belgian one. 

Kumar further clarified that there had been no official meeting between the jeweller and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. “It was an impromptu moment, we were moving from one meeting to another when the delegation of CEOs encountered us, and they took a picture with the PM,'' he said, clarifying about the image of the two Modis that has been doing the rounds on social media. The ministry further clarified that the absconding jeweller was not part of India's official delegation. 

The jeweller's disappearance from the country days before the massive bank defrauding scam came to light has raised uncomfortable questions for the government. After liquor baron Vijay Mallya managed to flee the country, thus avoiding the cases of financial fraud against him, Modi's disappearance has become a major embarrassment for the NDA government. Mallya left the country in 2016, smoothly evading all the investigating agencies following him for money laundering and financial fraud. The case for his extradition is proceeding slowly in the courts in the UK.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Topics : #Nirav Modi

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