ED Raises 51 Cr Auctioning Nirav Modi’s Rolls Royce, Other Assets

A Rolls Royce car, paintings by renowned artists MF Hussain and Amrita Sher-Gil were among the items sold.

4 min read
Auction house Saffronart auctioned the assets belonging to fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi on 5 March. 

In an auction conducted on Thursday, 5 March in Mumbai, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) garnered Rs 51.41 crore by selling off certain assets of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi.

A Rolls Royce car, artwork of famous painters such as MF Hussain and Amrita Sher-Gil and a designer handbag belonging to Modi were among the items that collectively garnered over Rs 51 crore at the auction.

As many as 40 items went under the hammer, marking the completion of the auction of items seized by the Enforcement Directorate. Auction house Saffronart conducted the proceedings on behalf of the ED.

The auction was held after Bombay High Court, on 4 March, refused to stay the process. A division Bench of Acting Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice NR Borkar heard the petition filed by Nirav Modi’s son, Rohin Modi, claiming the paintings were owned by the Rohin Trust, of which he is a beneficiary and not by Nirav Modi.

The Bench, after hearing the arguments, noted that the petitioner Rohin Modi had approached the court at the "eleventh hour".

“In this situation, we are not inclined to pass interim orders. The ED shall file its affidavit in response to the plea by 23 March.”
Bombay High Court

The Bench, however, directed the ED to deposit the auction proceeds in a separate bank account and not use the same until further orders.

BMC Attaches Nirav Modi’s Properties for Tax Recovery

Earlier on Thursday, a civic official said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has attached three out of the four Mumbai properties of fugitive diamond businessman Nirav Modi for the recovery of pending property tax worth Rs 9.5 crore.

Since the Enforcement Directorate is in the process of auctioning four properties of the businessman, three commercial and one residential, the civic body has also written a letter to the agency asking to pay property tax dues as early as possible.

A commercial property of Nirav Modi is located at Peninsula Business Park in Lower Parel area of Mumbai and two commercial ones are at Kohinoor City in suburban Kurla. Besides, the residential property is located at Kalina, a senior civic official said.

Property tax worth Rs 9.5 crore is outstanding against the four properties, the official said, adding that they have already attached three properties – two commercial and one residential – and the process of attachment of the fourth is in process.

UK Court Rejects Nirav Modi's Bail Plea for Fifth Time

In another development, a UK court, on Thursday, rejected the fugitive businessman’s bail plea for the fifth time, even as he fights his extradition to India on charges over the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

Justice Ian Dove, who presided over the bail hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, concluded that the 49-year-old jeweller continues to pose the risk of absconding.

This was the fifth attempt at bail by Modi, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March last year and is scheduled for an extradition trial between May 11 and 15.

He appeared via videolink from prison as his legal team offered a package of "stringent" bail measures, including bail security of 4 million pounds, house arrest with a 24-hour electronic tag as well as a private security guard service and a strictly monitored access to gadgets and telephones.

“There are risks involved with this applicant and the question for the court is are those risks adequately guarded against.”
Justice Dove

"My central concern of a risk of absconding are not obviated by the measures presented," he ruled, adding that he is unsatisfied with the arrangements presented to the court to adequately contain the risks posed in the very "substantial case" of fraud and money laundering.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) barrister Nick Hearn, arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had reiterated that Modi continues to remain a flight risk and that any additional measures offered for his bail would not make a breach impossible .

He also sought to dismiss the CPS concern of Modi continuing to interfere with witnesses due to strictly monitored access to phones and gadgets.

While details of Modi's mental health were not discussed in open court, the court was told he suffers from depression and that his psychological condition is "deteriorating with the ever-increasing detention" since his arrest in March last year.

There have additionally been a disturbing number of physical attacks inside prison and Modi was told he was being set up for extortion, Fitzgerald added.

The judge said he had taken those factors into account but concurred with both Justice Ingrid Simler, who denied bail at the High Court last year, as well as Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who had last refused Modi's bail in November 2019.

Modi was arrested on 19 March 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.

During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that Modi was the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.

(With inputs from PTI)

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