The Supreme Court on Monday asked Mainak Mehta, the brother-in-law of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi who is an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, to write to the banks where his accounts have been probed by the CBI and seek the statements of transactions.
Mehta told the court that his bank accounts, including those in Singapore, were frozen following a money-laundering probe launched by the ED.
A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli told Mehta’s counsel Amit Desai that his client should write to the banks, requesting for the statements of transactions for the period sought to be probed by the CBI.
The bench said the details of all the communication with the banks should be shared with the investigating agency.
Representing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Additional Solicitor General S V Raju said even if the accounts are frozen, it does not preclude Mehta from seeking bank statements for the period being probed by the federal agency.
The bench said it will allow Mehta to travel abroad once he furnishes the bank statements and posted the matter for hearing on November 14.
The court was hearing a CBI plea challenging an August 23 order of the Bombay High Court that allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong and stay there for three months.
On October 18, the top court had asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to sit together within a week and share material with regard to the money transactions and disclosures made by Mehta with each other.
It had also asked Mehta to share with the CBI whatever relevant information he has on the bank accounts being investigated by the agency.
The CBI had earlier flagged issues with regard to the non-disclosure of transactions in bank accounts, including one based in Singapore, two transactions of USD 8.9 million and USD 1.8 million transferred by Modi’s father.
The agency had said Mehta should share the details with it after which he might be considered for travelling abroad.
The top court had earlier noted that on October 13, 2021, a notice was issued under section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), directing Mehta to appear before the additional superintendent of police, CBI in Mumbai with documents related to his bank account in Singapore as well as with the statement and other details of an account in the name of Pavilion Point Corporation, a company controlled by Mehta, on October 25, 2021.
The CBI has submitted that Mehta is a British citizen who has given certain details but not made full disclosures with regard to the said bank accounts and there is apprehension that he may not return to India.
It has pointed out that an amount of USD 30 million was sent by Modi, which has allegedly been diverted by Mehta, and said it needs to know the details in this regard.
Desai had earlier submitted that his client had made a disclosure of the records that were available with him to the ED but could not furnish the complete details as his bank accounts were frozen.
”We have given whatever details that were available with us. The ED has investigated the USD 30 million transaction and found that we were not the beneficiary. Similarly, it has also investigated all other transactions and therefore, the agency did not oppose the pardon granted by the court,” the senior advocate had said.
Mehta has turned an approver in the ED case and received pardon.
Desai had submitted that Mehta would immediately call on the CBI’s investigating officer and indicate what steps have been taken to provide the information referred to in a notice dated October 13, 2021.
He had submitted that the trial court had pardoned Mehta as due to his efforts, the ED was able to bring back more than Rs 500 crore to the country.
On August 23, the 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.
It has claimed that Mehta had received a large sum of money siphoned off in the PNB fraud. The money, it has alleged, was transferred to his wife’s account.