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ED Seeks NBW Against Mehul Choksi, Permission to Search Nirav Modi's Mumbai Residence

Mehul Choksi (left) and Nirav Modi.

Mehul Choksi (left) and Nirav Modi.

The CBI court in Mumbai is likely to pass an order on March 3.

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday moved a special court in Mumbai seeking a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Gitanjali Gems' promoter Mehul Choksi, a key accused in the alleged Rs 12,700 crore PNB scam.

It also moved another court seeking permission to search the south Mumbai residence of billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, a co-accused in the Punjab National Bank scam.

"We issued three summonses to Choksi, he neither responded to those summonses nor appeared before the agency," special ED prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar told the court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases in Mumbai. On February 27, the agency had moved the court seeking an NBW against Nirav Modi. Judge M S Azmi is likely to pass orders on both the pleas on Saturday. The ED on Thursday also petitioned the special CBI court in Mumbai for permission to conduct searches at Nirav Modi's residence in Samudra Mahal building in south Mumbai. Venegaonkar told CBI judge S R Tamboli that the Central Bureau of Investigation has searched the residence and sealed it. "We (ED) need permission to search his residence," the lawyer said.

The CBI had not searched three cupboards in the house, and the ED may be allowed to conduct a joint inspection of these cupboards with the CBI, the lawyer said.

The CBI court is likely to pass an order on March 3.

Meanwhile, judge Tamboli on Thursday remanded PNB's internal chief auditor M K Sharma in CBI custody till March 13. Sharma was arrested on Wednesday.

A scale-IV officer, he was responsible for auditing the systems and practises of the bank's Brady House branch -- from where Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) were issued to Modi's firms -- and report the deficiencies to the zonal audit office, the CBI told the court.

Accusing Sharma of conniving with others, the CBI told the court that he failed to point out issuance of illegal LoUs which resulted in a loss of Rs 6,498 crore to the bank, the agency said.

Following the registration of FIR against Nirav Modi, his companies and Choksi, the CBI has so far arrested Vipul Ambani, president (finance) of Modi's Fire Star Diamond, Kavita Mankikar (executive assistant and authorised signatory of Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond, Solar Exports, Arjun Patil (senior executive, Firestar group) and Rajesh Jindal, the then head of the Brady House branch of PNB, among others.