Indian federal agents launched an investigation into billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, one of the country’s richest men, over accusations that he and others defrauded a state bank of $44 million. The Indian diamond billionaire whose namesake retail chain just opened two stores in the United States, is said to have conspired with bank officials to fraudulently obtain advances for making payments to overseas suppliers, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), acting on a complaint from the Punjab National Bank. The complaint charges that Modi, his brother Nishal, wife Ami, and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi caused Punjab National Bank a loss of 280 crore rupees (approximately $45 million).
According to Forbes, Modi has a net worth of $1.84 billion through his jewelry design and retail businesses, making him the 85th richest person in India. The bank had filed a complaint saying public money “seems to have been embezzled by committing fraud”, the CBI said. CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal said raids were conducted over the weekend at 21 locations linked to companies of Modi and others accused in the case. Modi’s residence was also searched, Dayal said. A spokesperson for Firestar International, which owns the Modi retail chain, released a statement saying the case “has no affiliation, legal or otherwise” with the company. The CBI did not name Firestar in the complaint. Modi grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, in a diamond family and attended Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania but eventually dropped out.
(Image courtesy of Nirav Modi)