New Delhi: Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi on Wednesday accused the authorities of public sector lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) of creating a “malicious” case against him and his company Gitanjali Diamonds.
“Despite no tangible proof, the PNB authorities instigated by a panic-stricken Chairman, Sunil Mehta, created a malicious case against a high-profile target—Gitanjali Diamonds and its proprietor Mehul Choksi,” a letter moved through Choksi’s counsel Vijay and Ashul Agarwal said.
The letter stated that Choksi had accumulated over Rs 8,000 crore through “ingenuity” and “hard work,” which were confiscated by “falsely painting” him in the bad light.
The letter, addressed to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), PNB and other banks, went on to claim that Indian authorities in an “unprecedented manner” raided his house and office without any evidence of wrongdoing.
The letter also claimed that he was not a partner with any of the firms under scrutiny and added that “he had quit all these firms way back in 2000.”
“The basis of the raids was an old and dated Know Your Customer (KYC) document which had been submitted by him to the PNB as far back as 1995. Choksi had sought to correct the details of this KYC on several occasions but to no avail,” the letter said.
The letter repeatedly emphasised that the PNB officials ignored his requests and calls to save their skin and used his out of date KYC document as the basis of the investigation.
“For PNB, it was obviously a desperate attempt to save their own skin by diverting attention away from the role of the bank and the cracks in their own system of not having updated all relevant information in their central server their central reporting system to the Reserve Bank of India,” the letter said.
It mentioned that Choksi had not only written to the PNB to correct the details of his KYC but also to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He had also made representations to the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange in February 2018, the letter stated.
His counsel said it will contest the “legality” of PNB notifying Choksi’s other banks to freeze his bank accounts and seize his properties.
This, the letter claimed, destroyed the businessman's Rs 12,000 crore business and tarnished the image of his brand in the eyes of the public. “The cruel, unwarranted and simultaneous raids across his homes and offices took place on false presumptions and in panic, Choksi’s assets were confiscated, and his businesses brought to naught,” it added.
“For 25 years, we strove to create an Indian jewellery brand that would rival the best in the world, and in two weeks the company was destroyed by the bloody-mindedness of a cynical system,” Choksi was quoted saying this in the letter.
On March 22, Choksi moved a new application in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, stating his long history of heart ailments and a blood clot in the brain as a reason not to be able to appear before the court.
Choksi’s counsel Vijay and Ashul Agarwal submitted his detailed medical history citing his ailments constraining him from travelling and hence leading to his inability to return to India. This came two days after the extradition process against him began in Antigua.
The matter is slated for hearing on April 9.
Mehul Choksi and nephew Nirav Modi are key accused in Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. They fled the country a year ago. Choksi was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda on January 15, 2018.