ED moves court to declare Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fugitive economic offenders

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved a special court on July 11 to label the jewellery tycoons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fugitive economic offenders under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.

The ED moved a special court on July 11 to label the jewellery tycoons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fugitive economic offenders - Nirav Modi- Facebook

The ED has been lobbying for the two jewellers, Modi and Choksi, to be labelled as fugitive economic offenders for several weeks now and, on Wednesday, again approached a special court in Mumbai to officially label the two. The reason the ED is keen to have the two officially labelled as fugitives is that such a move would allow them to confiscate all assets from both India and abroad which would mean major progress in the ongoing case.

The ED has already begun confiscating assets from Modi and Choksi prior to their move to label them fugitives. So far, the ED has attached approximately Rs 3,500 crore ($526 million) worth of assets from Modi and Choksi combined but, if the Mumbai court accepts the ED’s plea, many more assets could be attached. The two are accused of committing fraud to the tune of Rs 13,400 crore ($2 billion) at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) which constitutes the highest value fraud in Indian banking history.

The ED’s application is the second of its kind under the new law. The first application to label someone a fugitive economic offender was made against the businessman Vijay Mallya who is accused of fraud at several public sector banks and who is currently evading trial in the UK.

The ED defined the term in the ordinance: “Fugitive economic offender means any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.”

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