The Debt Recovery Tribunal-I (DRT-I) has ordered the auction of a prime property belonging to absconder diamantaire Nirav D. Modi in one of the cases filed by Punjab National Bank (PNB) to recover a part of their whopping dues of more than Rs 2,133-crore.
As per the Mumbai DRT-I’s order, HCL House in Marol shall be put up for e-auction on September 23, with a reserve price of Rs 52 crore, against the massive amounts outstanding since nearly five years to the PNB and 15 more banks.
“Proclamation of sale under Rules 38, 52(2) of the second schedule to the Income Tax Act, 1961 read with the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993,” said the August 11 order by Recovery Officer Ajeet Tripathi.
The case pertains to PNB plus 15 public and private sector banks versus Nirav Modi’s group company Firestar International Ltd. and other known or new entities from whom the dues are recoverable.
The latest auction comes in the recovery process initiated by various banks after the infamous PNB scam of over Rs 14,000 crore erupted in the Indian banking sector in February 2018 — almost a month after Modi, his wife Ami and others fled the country (January 2018).
Following a complaint by the PNB, the Central Bureau of Investigation lodged the first offences in January 2018, and other agencies like Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department also got into the act, chasing the two prime accused — Modi, his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi — and many others including bank officers.
The group companies of Firestar International Ltd, include: Firestone Trading Pvt. Ltd., Radashir Jewellery Co. Ltd, and Paundra Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. — all three located in a single office in Bharat Diamond Bourse, Bandra east.
Some new entities have emerged for the first time — Bentley Properties Pvt. Ltd., Mak Business Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., ANM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., NDM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., besides the Neeshal Trading Pvt. Ltd. Curiously, all are shown as having a common address at No. 15, Nagindas Mansion in Opera House, south Mumbai.
Firestar International’s (Lower Parel) Directors are Modi, Angelina Nguyen and Haresh Vrajlal Shah, while Modi is also a Director with Radashir Jewelery (Bandra) along with Hemant Dahyalal Bhatt.
The other companies’ Directors, with most featuring in one or more entities, are: Ramesh M. Assar, Ketan C. Solanki, Manish L. Dani, and Paresh P. Rathod.
Till July 2022, various agencies like the ED have attached Modi’s properties worth a little over Rs 2,650 crore as he fights extradition proceedings in London, and certain assets like bungalows, plots, factories, luxury cars, expensive artworks, etc., have been periodically auctioned by various probe agencies to recover part of the stupendous dues to the banks.
Modi’s uncle Choksi of the Gitanjali Gems Group, also the prime co-accused in the PNB bank scam, is currently in Antigua & Barbuda.
For the September 23 auction of HCL House, the DRT-I has stipulated a refundable EMD of Rs 5.20 crore with the property physical verification of the property kept for September 19, and the last date for submitting EMD/Bids with an incremental value of Rs 20 lakhs, by September 21.
However, no details of revenue assessed on part or the full property, other liabilities, encumbrances or claims on the asset are available.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)