New Delhi – Indian investigators on Friday contacted Interpol for help in arresting two jewellery tycoons being investigated in connection with a 1.8-billion-dollar scandal at a leading Indian bank.
The move came a day after authorities raided homes and offices of Nirav Modi and his business associate Mehul Choksi and reportedly seized over 800 million dollars in diamonds, jewels and gold.
India’s second-biggest state-run bank, the Punjab National Bank, alleged that the duo were among those accused in the massive fraud.
“We have approached the Interpol with a request for issuing diffusion notice which is used to request the arrest or for locating the culprits,” a Central Bureau of Investigation official said.
The official added that the agency had also filed complaint against Choksi’s Gitanjali gems company.
The two were suspected to have left India in early January, well before the irregularities were discovered.
The foreign affairs ministry suspended their passports and warned these will be cancelled if they do not return to India in four weeks.
While authorities said they did not know their whereabouts, broadcaster NDTV had tracked Modi to a hotel in New York.
Modi and his associate are accused of getting PNB officials to facilitate huge loans using fake guarantees.
However, Modi, who runs global jewellery business and whose designs are worn by stars in India and abroad, is yet to comment on the scandal.
Report says the fraud occurs at a time when Indian banking system is struggling to deal with swelling non-performing assets.
Opposition parties have heavily criticised the government for letting Modi “escape” the country saying authorities were aware of the scandal since 2016. (dpa/NAN)