Mumbai, March 28 : The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Firestar Group Vice President Shyam Sunder Wadhwa, a confidant of Nirav Modi, who is wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, an official said on Wednesday.
Wadhwa was arrested in Mumbai on Tuesday night after questioning, said the ED official, adding it was the first arrest by the agency in the case.
Informed sources said Wadhwa was accused of conducting fraudulent transactions with Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International owned by Modi, who along with his group companies — Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports — and others have been implicated in the Rs 13,500 crore scam which was admitted by the PNB in February, leading to a massive upheaval in the country’s banking system.
During investigation it is revealed that Wadhwa, who is also a qualified chartered accountant,
made Kartik Doshi a shareholder in Hog Kong-based Sino Traders and got him to sign all the relevant documents in respect of the firm.
Similarly, Divyesh Gandhi was made director and Sonu Shailesh Mehta owner in Hong Kong company “Aura Gem Company Ltd.”
“Sino Traders and Aura Gem were used for laundering proceed of crime and substantial amounts totaling Rs 5,921 crore in all were paid to these two companies from the Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) fraudulently issued by PNB for the Nirav Modi Group of companies,” the ED official said.
The official said out of the funds so received, Aura Gem has transferred an amount of Rs 468 crore and Sino Traders Rs 506.69 crore to the Nirav Modi’s three companies completing the process of laundering money.
Wadhwa has assisted Modi in the offence of money laundering which is punishable under PMLA, the official said. “However, he is not coming out with facts related to the deals to which he is privy and is also trying to mislead the investigators accordingly.”
The ED on March 24 seized valuables worth over Rs 36 crore belong to Modi and also carried out joint searches with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is also probing criminal misconduct in the case, for over three days at Nirav Modi’s palatial ‘Samudra Mahal’ residence in Mumbai.
The move is part of money trail probe by the ED and CBI after cases were registered against Modi and his business partner and uncle Mehul Choksi, owner of Gitanjali Group, for defrauding PNB.
Modi and Choksi fled the country in January around a month before the PNB filed its first complaint against them with the CBI. They are still at large.
So far, the ED has carried out searches at 251 properties across the country and seized diamonds, gold, pearls and precious and semi-precious stones.
The ED has also claimed to have attached immovable properties belonging to their business groups to the tune of Rs 7,638 crore.