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Mumbai court slaps notice to attach diamantaire Nirav Modi’s assets

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Nirav Modi. (File Photo: IANS)

Fresh legal troubles are brewing in Mumbai for the fugitive diamantaire Nirav D. Modi, currently seeking bail and battling extradition proceedings in a UK Court, officials said here on Thursday.

A Special Court under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 has slapped notices to Nirav Modi and his sister Purvi Mehta — who turned approver five months ago — besides his group companies, ordering them to appear before the Special Judge V.C. Barde on June 11, in Mumbai.

Barde has also asked them to show cause why the Special Court should not attach the properties and assets of the two siblings and the other group companies under the law, in a money-laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in early 2018.

The development comes exactly three-and-half-years after Nirav Modi, several of his family members, his maternal uncle Mehul C. Choksi and others were accused of perpetrating a stunning fraud of around Rs 14,000-crore in the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Even before PNB admitted to the fraud and lodged a formal police complaint in January 2018, it emerged that Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others had already fled the country as the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED launched their independent probes.

Besides the ‘Mama-Bhanja’ duo, Modi’s group companies like Stellar Diamonds, Firestar International Ltd, Radashir Jewelery Co. Pvt. Ltd., Firestar Trading Pvt. Ltd., Solar Exports, Diamonds R Us, Firestar Diamond International Ltd., Mac Business Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Bentley Properties Pvt. Ltd. and Nirav Modi Trust, were under the scanner of the CBI-ED sleuths and are named in the Special Court’s latest notices.

Shortly afterwards, in Feb. 2018, a Mumbai Magistrate ordered a non-bailable warrant against Modi, in June 2018, the InterPol issued a Red Corner Notice, followed by India’s request in Aug. 2018 to the UK authorities seeking his extradition back home.

It was in March 2019 that a massive furore erupted in India after Nirav Modi was found sauntering on a London street and the Indian authorities went after him with renewed vigour, resulting in his arrest that same month.

As he remains in jail, a UK Court in Feb. 2021 cleared his extradition to India to face charges of bank frauds, money-laundering, etc, even as Purvi and her husband Maiank Mehta turned approvers in the case in January 2021.

Incidentally, in the past couple of years, the ED-CBI has managed to recover small sums by auctioning off Nirav Modi’s assets like half-a-dozen luxury vehicles, designer bags, high-value wristwatches, rare paintings, artworks and other stuff, while his deluxe bungalow in Alibaug, Raigad was attached and demolished in March 2019.

After the PNB scam broke out, over the next couple of years, several other nationalised banks slowly came into the open and reveal how Modi-Choksi had duped and dumped them in various loan accounts.

Meanwhile, in early 2019 it came to light Choksi had acquired the citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda Island in the West Indies in November 2017, and is currently embroiled in a legal tangle over his citizenship and related issues.

Business

India’s forex reserves rise by over $3 bn

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Reserve-Bank-of-India

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $3.074 billion during the week ended June 11.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the reserves increased to $608.081 billion from $605.008 billion reported for the week ended June 4.

India’s forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs), and the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On a weekly basis, FCAs, the largest component of the forex reserves, edged higher by $2.567 billion to $563.457 billion.

Similarly, the value of the country’s gold reserves rose by $496 million to $38.101 billion.

However, the SDR value slipped by $1 million at $1.512 billion.

But, the country’s reserve position with the IMF inched higher by $11 million to $5.011 billion.

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BharatPe in talks to raise $250M led by Tiger Capital: Report

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BharatPe

Fintech major BharatPe, that hit a new high with 106 million monthly transactions in UPI in March this year, is reportedly raising nearly $250 million in its next funding round led by Tiger Global.

TechCrunch on Friday reported, citing sources, that the fresh funding will take the company’s valuation to about $2.5 billion.

When reached, the company declined to comment at the moment.

The financial services company last month raised Rs 50 crore in debt from Northern Arc Capital, one of the leading digital debt finance platforms. This was the sixth round of debt financing in 2021.

In January, the company had raised Rs 200 crore from three top debt companies in the country — Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital, having later raised additional capital from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

“We have considerably ramped up our lending business in the last year and have set an ambitious target of facilitating disbursals to the tune of $1 billion to more than 10 lakh merchants by the end of current fiscal (FY22),” Suhail Sameer, Group President, BharatPe, had said.

The fintech company has already facilitated disbursals of over Rs 1,600 crore to more than 2 lakh merchants since the launch of the lending vertical.

As per a recent report by ACI Worldwide and Global Data, India has outpaced the US and China to become the world’s biggest real-time digital payments market, driven by P2P as well as merchant payments.

BharatPe said it is committed to help small merchants and kirana store owners grow their business with a range of fintech products for them.

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Finance Ministry refutes reports of alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland

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Finance-Ministry

The Union Finance Ministry on Saturday said that increase in deposits of Indians in Swiss Banks could be on account of increase in business of Swiss bank branches located in India and raised Inter-bank transactions, rather than due to an increase in alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland.

It, however said that Swiss Authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase or decrease in deposits so that facts could be presented in correct perspective.

Certain reports suggested that that funds of Indians in Swiss Banks have risen to over Rs 20,700 crore (CHF 2.55 billion) at the end of 2020 from Rs 6,625 crore (CHF 899 million) at the end of 2019, reversing a 2 year declining trend. It has also been stated that this is also the highest figure of deposits in the last 13 years.

“Reports allude to the fact that the figures reported are official figures reported by banks to Swiss National Bank (SNB) and do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland. Further, these statistics do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of third-country entities,” the Ministry statement said.

The statement added that the customer deposits have actually fallen from the end of 2019 in a Swiss Banks. The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019. The biggest increase is in “Other amounts due from customers”. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments, the finance min statement said.

The ministry also ascribed various other reasons for increase in deposits and not possibly on account of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents. It said that that increase in deposits may be on account if increase in deposits owing to the business of Swiss Bank branches located in India or Increase in Inter- bank transactions between Swiss and Indian Banks. Also, it could be due to capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss Company in India or increase in the liabilities connected with the outstanding derivative financial instruments.

The government has issued clarifications in wake of widely held position that it has curbed generation of black money in the economy or unaccounted funds of Indians stashed abroad. The fresh tax agreements reached between India and certain perceived tax havens has introduced certain instruments to prevent round tripping of funds and generation of black money.

It is pertinent to point out that India and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) and both countries have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) pursuant to which, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is activated between the two countries for sharing of financial account information annually for calendar year 2018 onwards.

Exchanges of Financial Account information in respect of residents of each country have taken place between both countries in 2019 as well as 2020. In view of the existing legal arrangement for exchange of information of financial accounts (which has a significant deterrent effect on tax evasion through undisclosed assets abroad), there does not appear to be any significant possibility of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks which is out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents, the finance ministry said.

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