ED Chargesheets Mehul Choksi’s Wife, Says Priti Choksi ‘Ultimate Beneficiary’

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed its first charge sheet against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s wife Priti Choksi over her alleged involvement in the Rs 13,500 crore loan fraud in the Punjab National Bank case, according to reports.

According to the agency, Priti Choksi was the “ultimate beneficiary” of certain offshore companies used for siphoning off funds obtained by the couple through cheating the Punjab National Bank (PNB). In its third chargesheet, the central agency has named Priti Choksi, Mehul Choksi, their three companies: Gitanjali Gems, Gili India Ltd and Nakshatra Brand Ltd and former PNB employee Gokulnath Shetty under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), as per a report by the Hindustan Times. The ED filed two charge sheets in June 2018 and April 2020.

Priti Choksi, alias Priti Pradyot Kumar Kothari, was the ultimate beneficial owner of three companies including Hillingdon Holdings Ltd and Charing Cross Holdings Ltd in the UAE, the ED said. Hillingdon was incorporated by Priti and one Dion Lillywhite (an employee of US-based Gitanjali Group company and dummy director in some of the group companies) and the sole shareholder of M/s Goldhawk DMCC (previously named Diminico DMCC), the document was quoting as saying. The company owns three properties in the UAE with a total area of over 5,100 square feet worth over Rs 22 crore.

“Priti Choksi was fully aware that the companies – Hillingdon Holdings Ltd, Goldhawk DMCC and Asian Diamond Jewellery UAE were beneficially owned and controlled by Mehul Choksi. She helped him in incorporating firms in UAE to acquire properties therein. During investigation, summons was issued to her but she didn’t honour them,” the ED charge sheet said.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking.

While Modi is in a London prison after repeated denial of bail and is contesting extradition to India. Priti and Mehul Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018. The scam came to light subsequently.

The new money laundering charges against Priti Choksi will allow agencies to pursue her extradition from Antigua.

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