India

PNB fraud: DRI raids 6 places including Mumbai, can’t find Gitanjali Group offices there

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he Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which had earlier registered an FIR against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, has found that at least six premises of the Gitanjali Group in Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata either do not exist or were not in possession of the company.

However, the group continued to show these places as their own office space which has led the DRI to suspect that the companies floated at these addresses were used as shell companies. DRI found this after it raided two locations each in Mumbai and Kolkata, and one each in Ahmedabad and Baroda.

In Mumbai, DRI raided Gitanjali Gems Ltd in building number 11 at Solitaire Corporate Park, 167, Guru Hargovindji Road at Chakala, Andheri (East). “Gitanjali Gems Ltd could not be located at the said premises as there was no such premise,” said an officer.

Another search was also carried out at Asmi Jewellery India Ltd at 2nd floor, B wing, Kumar Silk Mills Comp, Vishweshar Nagar, Pahadi in Goregaon (East). “The address appears to be fictitious,” he said. In Gujarat, a premise declared as Gilli India Ltd was searched at Diamond Park, in Naroda, Ahmedabad. “The premise was briefly taken on lease in 1995 by Gilli group of companies. However, the same is still shown as a branch office,” said the officer. Similarly, Gitanjali Exports Corporation Ltd in Makarpura, Baroda was searched and it came to light that the premise did not belong to the group. It was owned by Jenish Bhupatrai Bhut who had purchased it in 2010, said DRI sources.

In Kolkata, two premises of Asmi Jewellery India Ltd were raided. A search at at Diamond City North at Cal Jessore Road, Kolkata revealed that Asmi Jewellery India Ltd. did not exist. The occupants of the premises said they were tenants there since March 1, 2016 and did not know whether the company operated from that premise at any time, said DRI sources.

Another search at Raja Basanta Roy Road in Kolkata, revealed that Asmi Jewellery India Ltd. did not exist there as the premise was owned by one Anurag Fatehpuria.

DRI has issued summonses to Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi via e-mail, to appear in Mumbai next week. “They have been asked to appear before the investigating officer,” said the officer. “We are probing if there are any violations under the Customs Act, any duty concessions availed while importing diamonds and pearls or any violations pertaining to valuation of goods,” he said.

DRI had registered a tax evasion case against Nirav Modi for illegally diverting imported diamonds and pearls worth Rs890 crore into the local market. DRI alleged that Nirav Modi misused benefits given to firms operating out of India’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ).