MUMBAI: Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Mehta and her husband Maiank have been permitted to be approvers prosecution witnesses against him in the money laundering cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate. A special court granted the couple pardon on Monday while allowing their separate applications to be declared approvers in the case.
Both were co-accused in the case and had last month filed applications which their counsel Amit Desai said were made to provide “substantial and important evidence” relevant to the prosecution case against Modi.
Nirav Modi is the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam. Purvi was made an accused in the money laundering case filed by the ED but is not an accused in the predicate offence filed by the CBI.
Purvi is a Belgian national, and Maiank, a British national. Purvi, the court noted, did not contest the provisional attachments by the ED of seven out of eight assets, including a bank account in Mumbai, Marathon House at London Beneficially owned by her worth approximately Rs 60 crore, a bank abroad where she was the beneficial owner with assets worth Rs 104 crore, another bank asset worth Rs 161 crore, property in New York Central Park South beneficially owned by The Ithaca Trust; settlor Purvi Modi worth Rs 180 crore, another property called The Essex House at Central Park South, New York, worth Rs 36 crore and a flat at Mumbai’s posh Bhulabhai Desai Road worth Rs 19 crore.
The ED case, argued by PP Arvind Aghav, was that various bank accounts and trusts in her name were used to launder proceeds of crimes. Purvi said she is “not one of the prime accused and has been attributed only a limited role’’ and has fully cooperated with the ED.
Both said they had “distanced’’ themselves from Nirav Modi. They expressed their willingness to be examined as witnesses and to make “full and true disclosure’’ via video conference. But special judge V C Barde in his January 4 order directed that they appear before the court by returning to India and directed the ED to facilitate their approach “at the earliest”.
Their case was that their “entire personal and professional life has now been brought to a standstill because of Nirav Modi’s alleged criminal activities.” A red corner notice has been issued by Interpol against the couple.
They said their inputs would prove critical to establish facts against Nirav Modi and other accused and can help ED “identify and attach more proceeds of crime in India and abroad, to repatriate the proceeds of crime to India and to obtain more evidence against the mastermind”. The ED did not object to granting them pardon in their individual capacity only. The court invoked the power under section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code on grant of pardon which can be done any time before judgment is passed in a trial, to a person considered to be directly or indirectly concerned in or privy to any offence.
“There is nothing on record not to grant the pardon” said the court, and allowed their applications.