New Delhi: The passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks. Their passports have been suspended on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Modi, who holds an Indian passport, had left India on January 1, while his brother Nishal, a Belgian citizen, departed from the country on the same day. However, whether they travelled together has to be probed. Modi's wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and his maternal uncle and business associate Mehul Choksi left on January 4.
Meanwhile, the ED today issued summons for appearance to the billionaire diamond merchant and Choksi in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 11,400 crore alleged fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB).
Both Modi and Choksi were summoned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and asked to depose within a week's time. The ED has registered a PMLA case against them and others based on a CBI FIR which was the result of a PNB complaint.
In a related development, the sources in the Finance Ministry today told news agency ANI that over 50 Nirav Modi-linked companies will be raided by the law enforcement agencies, including the CBI, ED and Income Tax Department in connection with the money laundering probe.
While Modi runs the jewellery brand chain under his name, Choksi is the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.
"Movable and immovable properties of Nirav Modi and his wife Ami Modi are being prepared and will be searched and seized," ANI quoted the Ministry sources as saying.
The CBI has also registered a fresh FIR against the Gitanjali Group, following a complaint from the Punjab National Bank, and also approached the Interpol to locate them.
The fresh FIR is based on a complaint from the PNB dated February 13.
According to it, the alleged loss to PNB was over Rs 4,886 crore.
The agency today carried out searches on the premises of the Gitanjali Group at 20 various places in Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Coimbatore.
(With Agency Inputs)