(G.N.S) Dt. 20
Diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, co-accused in the Rs 13,540 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has said that “exaggerated” allegations by multiple investigating agencies has left him “completely defenceless” and that he feared for his safety to return home. Jeweller Mehul Choksi, a co-accused in the Rs 12,700 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has said that the manner in which the allegations have been exaggerated has left him “completely defenseless”, adding that he fears for his safety.
In a two-page March 16-dated letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Choksi denied he was a partner of Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports. In a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) dated March 16, Choksi said he was extremely held up in his business abroad and was working hard to resolves the issues it is facing due to the “unnecessary closure of business in India” due to “untenable allegations”.
Earlier this month, the CBI wrote another letter to accused Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi telling them that they are obliged to join the investigation. Adding that the agency is not convinced by their excuses, the CBI said that both Choksi and Modi have not disclosed their location despite repeatedly asking them to do so. These firms have been accused of conducting fraudulent transactions with Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International owned his nephew Nirav Modi, who is also an accused in the PNB fraud.
Responding to CBI’s letter, Choksi said,” At the outset, I wish to bring to your kind attention that till date the Regional Passport Office has not communicated with me and my passport continues to remain suspended. I have the deepest respect for your good offices and therefore I assure your good offices that I am not making any excuse, whatsoever to travel to India.”
The Gitanjali Gems promoter also blamed the media for conducting “trial by itself” and blowing “each and every issue out of proportion”.
“At the cost of repetition, I state that I had earlier expressed my apprehension and concern for my family’s and my safety. The threat to me and my family continues, and I am still being threatened by individuals with whom I had business relationships. As there has been a complete and sudden closure of my business, my employees, customers, creditors etc have started to show their animosity towards me,” Choksi stated in his letter.
The companies were named by the CBI in an additional FIR filed on February 14. Choksi was summoned to appear before the CBI on March 16 for questioning in the case.
Reiterating that it was “impossible” for him to return to India, Choksi said his health condition was not conducive and that his passport remained suspended. The absconding businessman also expressed concerns over his health and well-being.
“Further, as earlier stated, I am unable to travel to India due to my persisting health condition. In February, 2018, a cardiac procedure was conducted and medical follow ups’ still remain and as the entire procedure could not be completed, I have been advised to not travel for a period of 4 to 6 months. The said situation still remains, thus I expected your agency shall consider on humanitarian grounds,” he insisted.
He also requested the CBI to communicate with him on his Yahoo email ID or his advocate Sanjay Abbot “in respect of any issues which you consider is needed to be addressed to me concerning the investigation”. Choksi was summoned by the CBI to appear before it on March 7.
“Till date, the Regional Passport Office (in Mumbai) hasn’t communicated with me and my passport remains suspended. I have the deepest respect for your offices and assure you that I am not making any excuse, whatsoever, to travel to India.
“I reiterate that I am abroad and have earlier also responded to your notices. Surprisingly, the issues raised remain unaddressed, making my fear of safety rise to extreme levels.”
He questioned the CBI move to name him in another case related to the bank fraud “knowing fully well that I have no concern whatsoever” with Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond, Solar Exports.
“I am neither a partner (of these firms) nor do I have any kind of association with the three concerns.”
He said various actions by multiple agencies taken against him and “the manner in which the allegations have been exaggerated has left me completely defenceless”.
“In any case”, he said, “I am extremely held up in my business abroad and am working hard to resolves the issues it is facing due to the unnecessary closure of business in India due to untenable allegation.” Choksi had left the country along with his nephew and other family members in January this year.
He said doctors had advised him “not travel for a period of four to six months”.
“I am unable to travel to India due to my persisting health condition. In February 2018, a cardiac procedure was conducted and medical follow ups still remain and as the entire procedure could not be completed. The situation still remains,” he said.
Both Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi had illegally obtained LoUs from the Punjab National Bank to avail loans from lenders abroad and then defaulted on them. The CBI and Enforcement Directorate are currently investigating the fraud case.
Earlier last month, Choksi had written a letter to his employees in which he informed them that it is very tough for him to clear their dues or to pay future salaries, “in view of the seizing of the various bank accounts and other properties.”
Choksi asked his employees to look for other career opportunities. He also told them to retain their office laptops and mobile phones till their dues are cleared.
(G.N.S) Dt. 20