Sunday, April 18, 2021

PNB Fraud: 13 cars linked to fugitive businessman Nirav Modi to be auctioned

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Nirav Modi is one of the prime accused in the ₹ 13,000-crore scam at Punjab National Bank (PNB) and was arrested in London, in March this year. He is currently in Wandsworth Jail in London and has applied for bail, for which the hearing will be taking place on November 6.

In August this year, the ED had approached the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, seeking permission to sell seized assets such as watches, cars and paintings. In its plea, the ED stated that the expenses of maintenance would exceed the items’ value if they are kept idle for long periods.

The contract for the e-auction has been given to Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC), a state-owned e-commerce company. Prospective bidders will have to pay a deposit amount to qualify for the bidding process.

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Of the 13 cars that will be auctioned on November 7, some are being re-auctioned, including a Rolls Royce Ghost and Porsche Panamera. These two cars were sold for ₹1.70 crore and ₹60 lakh respectively in a re-auction held in June, but the selling process did not materialise due to minor issues.

The starting prices for the vehicles were decided on the basis of their age and usage. For the Bentley Arnage, the starting price is ₹2,00,80,000, which is the highest of all the cars owned by Modi that have been auctioned.

Bidders can inspect the vehicles on November 4 and 5 at three locations – Samudra Mahal in Worli, Grosvenor House at Peddar Road and the basement parking of Kohinoor City in Kurla (West). All the vehicles were seized by the ED after it charged Nirav with money laundering in the PNB fraud case. “The newly-seized cars found during the investigation have been added for auction,” said a source in the know.

Some of the cars have special VIP numbers like the Bentley Arnage (DAF 0001), the Rolls Royce Ghost (MH-01-AS-8), Porsche Panamera (MH-01-AT-5) and the Mercedes Benz GL 350 (MH-01-BS-8).

The Rolls Royce Ghost has been driven 24,439 km and was registered in 2010. The Porsche Panamera, driven 30,326km, was registered in 2010. Also being auctioned is Nirav’s brother Neeshal’s Skoda Elegance, which has a starting price of ₹5.25 lakh. Interpol issued a red corner notice (RCN) against Neeshal in September.

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Previously, in March, the income tax department had auctioned artworks seized during its raid on Samudra Mahal. The collection included works by famous Indian artists like VS Gaitonde, MF Husain and Amrita Sher-Gil and earned ₹54.84 crore, which was used to recover Nirav’s outstanding income tax dues.

After being denied bail three times, Nirav recently made another application for bail in Westminster Magistrates Court. The hearing will be taking place on November 6.

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