We are unaware of Nirav Modi's location: MEA

ANI | Updated: Feb 16, 2018 18:57 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 16 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday underscored that it is "not aware" of businessman Nirav Modi's location at the moment.

"I can say with confidence that this gentleman [Nirav Modi] is not in touch with any of our officials and frankly at this stage we are not aware about his location," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, said in a media briefing here.

Kumar also dwelled upon suspending the validity of Modi's passport, saying that Nirav Modi cannot relocate after his passport got suspended thereby confining him to the country where he is residing currently.

Earlier in the day, the MEA suspended the validity of the passports of businessmen Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the wake of both being accused of being involved in a Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

A statement issued by the ministry said, "Mr. Nirav Deepak Modi and Mr. Mehul Chinubhai Choksi have been asked to respond within one week as to why their passports should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10 (3) (c) of the Passports Act 1967. 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."

This comes days after the PNB reported a fraud of Rs. 11,400 crores committed by both with the help of employees of the Mumbai branch of the bank.

The fraud was allegedly perpetrated by several PNB employees, including key branch officials, without authorisation, issuing so-called letters of undertaking, or LoUs, (essentially guarantees) that helped Modi's companies raise credit from other banks. LoUs, issued when overseas import payments are involved, basically guarantees liability payment by one bank to another on behalf of its client.

The case relates to jeweller Nirav Modi, who was already under investigation following a PNB complaint on January 29 about fraudulent transactions of Rs.280 crore. The bank had said at the time that it was checking if the case was actually bigger. (ANI)