CBI gets Centre’s nod to seek LR for collecting evidence on Nirav Modi’s brother-in-law from Singapore

The CBI on Friday told the Supreme Court it has got the Centre’s go ahead to move a Mumbai court for issuance of letters rogatory (LR) to a Singapore court for obtaining evidence against Mainak Mehta, the brother-in-law of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the central probe agency, told a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha about the Union home ministry having granted it the sanction to move the special CBI court in Mumbai for issuance of LR to a Singapore court.
Letters Rogatory is a document making a request through a foreign court to obtain evidence from a person living under the territorial jurisdiction of the requested court within the ambit of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and on the basis of reciprocity if no such treaty exists.
The law officer also said the plea seeking issuance of LR will be filed in the Mumbai court within three working days.
The bench, which had asked Mehta to write to the banks, where his accounts are being probed by the CBI, and seek the statements of transactions, noted the submissions of the law officer and fixed the plea of the probe agency for hearing on December 14.
The CBI, through its Director, Banking Securities Fraud Branch, Mumbai, has challenged in the apex court the August 23 order of the Bombay High Court which had allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong and stay there for three months.
The CBI has been alleging Mehta received a large sum of money siphoned off in the PNB fraud which was transferred to his wife’s bank account.
Earlier, the top court had decided to hear after two weeks the CBI’s plea against the Bombay High Court order allowing Mehta to travel abroad.
“Banks have said that the matter is being looked into. Let the proceedings be listed exactly after two weeks when we will have the status of the progress,” the bench said in its order.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, appearing for Mehta, had said a communication has been sent to the banks seeking statement of transactions.
Desai said Mehta has been cooperating with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and was made an approver in the money laundering case involving Modi, and now he is being harassed by the CBI.
The CBI, on the other hand, said Mehta is related to Neerav Modi, an accused in the multi-crore rupees Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case and had not cooperated fully in the probe.
On October 18, the top court had asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to sit together and share material with regard to the money transactions and disclosures made by Mehta with each other.
The CBI had flagged issues with regard to non-disclosure by Mehta of transactions in bank accounts, including the one based in Singapore, two transactions of USD 8.9 million and USD 1.8 million transferred by Modi’s father.
The probe agency had said Mehta should share the details with it after which he might be considered for travelling abroad.
The CBI has submitted, Mehta a British citizen, has given certain details but not made full disclosure with regard to the said bank accounts and there is apprehension that he may not return to India if allowed to travel abroad.
It has alleged an amount of USD 30 million was sent by Modi, which was diverted by Mehta, and said it needs to know the details.
On August 23, the Bombay High Court had dismissed the CBI’s plea against an order of a special court dealing with cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong. The CBI wanted the PMLA court’s order to be stayed.
The agency had submitted in the high court that Mehta was not named as an accused in the case and his role in the PNB scam was yet to be ascertained for which he needed to be interrogated. (PTI)