In what can be said as a blessing in disguise for Punjab National Bank Ltd. (PNB) that has today informed the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) that it has received $ 3.25 million which is the equivalent of Rs.24.33 crore in Indian currency as the first tranche of recoveries from the proceeds by auctioning the assets of Nirav Modi by a US Court.
Nirav Modi has duped the bank to an extent of Rs11,000 crore and Rs25 crore maybe a peanut but can be the first step in its future recoveries. The bank also informed that a sum of $ 11.04 million equivalent of Rs. 82.66 crore has been available for distribution to unsecured creditors including PNB after the liquidation of the debtors’ assets by the US Chapter 11 Trustee. Further recovery therefrom is subject to other expenses and settlement of claims of other claimants, the bank said.
The maiden repatriation of $ 3.25 million is an unprecedented achievement of the Government of India, Ministry of Corporate Affairs in its fight against corporate fraud in the overseas territory. The Ministry also has initiated proceedings for disgorgement of monies from the perpetrators, i.e., the entities promoted and or controlled by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Punjab National Bank Ltd.in 2018 informed the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India that three companies promoted by Nirav Modi, namely M/s. Firestar Diamond, Inc., M/s. A. Jaffee, Inc. and M/s. Fantasy, Inc., had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in the Southern District of New York, United States of America. PNB requested the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to support and join the bankruptcy proceedings in New York, USA in order to help PNB realize its claims in the debtors’ assets.
The US Bankruptcy Court of Southern District of New York, by its Order dated July 26, 2018, recognized the claims of PNB in the proceeds of the sale of assets of the properties of the debtor companies. It also authorized PNB to issue subpoenas to compel the examination of Nirav Modi, Mihir Bhansali and Ms Rakhi Bhansali under oath.
Subsequently, on August 24, 2018, the Examiner appointed by the New York Bankruptcy Court submitted his report. The Report explains the modus operandi of the fraud and the manner in which the US-based employees of the debtors participated in the fraud. One prominent feature of the fraud was the apparent façade of independent companies, which were, in reality, entities promoted and or controlled by Nirav Modi, that engaged in ‘round-tripping’ of the diamonds amongst themselves.