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Nirav Modi a.k.a Edmond Dantes: A Fake Identity and Strange Fascination With The Count of Monte Cristo

Nirav Modi has in previous interviews also often revealed how he was a big fan of Alexander Dumas and, particularly, The Count of Monte Cristo.

Ashish Mehrishi | CNN-News18

Updated:August 1, 2019, 5:08 PM IST
Nirav Modi a.k.a Edmond Dantes: A Fake Identity and Strange Fascination With The Count of Monte Cristo
File photo of Nirav Modi.

Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is wanted in India in connection with the $2 billion Punjab National Bank fraud and money laundering case, seemed to really fancy himself as Edmond Dantes, the protagonist of the 1844 French classic ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexander Dumas.

After allegedly forming shell companies named after the novel to roundtrip money into India from tax havens like the Bahamas, Modi, it has now been revealed, assumed a secret identity in London in the name of the book’s title character to avoid the glare of the Enforcement Directorate and other law enforcement agencies.

CNN-News18 has accessed Nirav Modi’s emails and other messages, which Indian intelligence agencies intercepted when he was living under the name of Dantes in London. During intelligence gathering, Modi, officials said, revealed his secret identity to a friend named Gloria Shkolnik in a conversation on a chat platform.

Nirav Modi: "Hi, this is Nirav. i am not active on FB and that's why i am under this name, Hope you are well (sic)".

Gloria Shkolnik: Hi Nirav, who's "Edmond Dantes??" How are u? All is ok here. Did you find a store in LA? (sic)”

Nirav Modi - He is a character from one of my favorite books. Haven't found a store yet but coming back in 2 weeks to LA.

Nirav Modi had also messaged this fake identity to a friend named Marsika Atmodimedjo, they said.

Modi has in previous interviews also often revealed how he was a big fan of Alexander Dumas and, particularly, The Count of Monte Cristo. Within the story's narrative, Dantes was an intelligent, honest and loving man who turned bitter and vengeful after he was framed for a crime he did not commit.

There is also a striking similarity between him and the character. While Dantes used a diamond as bribe in the book to bring out the truth, Modi, officials said, must have bribed bank officials with diamonds and more for the scam.

Modi’s fascination with the book was also revealed after ED found that he was the settlor and beneficiary of a trust, Monte Cristo, in Jersey. The underlying entity, Monte Cristo Ventures Ltd, was incorporated in Bahamas. These entities had not been disclosed under the black money law.

ED sources said Modi had made numerous bookings in hotels, restaurants and meditation centres around London with an email ID under the fake name, Edmond Dantes, between January 2018 and August 2018, which they had kept under surveillance.

However, he was only arrested by the Scotland Yard on behalf of the Indian authorities in March this year as part of efforts to extradite him. He is believed to have been living in a luxury apartment in Centre Point in the West End of London and was also able to travel in and out of London at least four times since his passport was cancelled in February 2018.

The fugitive diamond merchant has been lodged at the Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his arrest in March as he awaits the trial in the extradition case.

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