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Was targeted by PNB, my business has been destroyed by government: Mehul Choksi

India Today logo India Today 27-03-2019 Munish Pandey
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In a recent statement issued on behalf of diamantaire Mehul Choksi by his lawyers, who faces charges of bank fraud, he has alleged that his Rs 12,000 crore business has been destroyed and there is no proof against him of any wrongdoing.

Choksi maintains that after the case was registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) and raids were conducted at his offices and residences, he was in the United States undergoing a critical surgery.

"Mr Choksi hadn't even recovered from his major cardiac operation when the ground was snatched from under his feet by several agencies in an unprecedented manner. The basis of the raids was an old and dated "Know Your Customer" (KYC) document which had been submitted by Mr Choksi to the Punjab National Bank as far back as 1995. Mr Choksi had sought to correct the details of this KYC on several occasions. He was not a partner in any of the firms under scrutiny for the purported scam being investigated at the time," The statement read.

Mehul Choksi maintains he had quit all these firms way back in 2000.

Choksi claimed he had called up Punjab National Bank (PNB) officials as well and was given the impression that the issue could be resolved amicably.

"PNB chose to ignore these repeated requests and calls, instead the bank went so far as to make this old and out of date KYC document the very basis of their allegations," alleges the statement.

The statement further alleges that it was a desperate attempt by PNB to save their own skin by diverting attention away from the role of the bank and the cracks in their own system of not having updated all relevant information in their central server, their central reporting system to the Reserve Bank of India.

It has also been alleged through a recent statement that his business was targeted and destroyed.

"Rs 12,000 crore business that had been built up over a period of 25 years has been destroyed. With brands like Nakshatra, Ginni, Asmi, and Gitanjali, Mr Choksi occupied a huge space in the public imagination and the gems and jeweler business in India. By tarring such a brand, PNB attempted to divert attention from its own shenanigans elsewhere," read the statement.

Mehul Choksi's lawyers also pointed out that he didn't just write to the PNB to correct the KYC record, but made representations to the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange as well on February 7, 2018.

The same representation was repeatedly made to the CBI as well, but in vain. Choksi's lawyers claims that, "our bank statements bear testimony to this. In the 25 years of the business, Gitanjali Gems did not default in its loan repayments even once. A loan exposure of Rs 6000 crore, was easily serviceable for the company with a topline of over Rs 12,000 crore."

"The cruel, unwarranted & simultaneous raids across his homes and offices took place on false presumptions and in panic. Mr Choski's assets were confiscated, and his businesses brought to naught. Following these raids, a campaign of falsehoods was spread in the media, prompted by a slew of unverified and outright false information that was supplied by officials at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) at the highest level. After these pernicious disclosures, PNB also notified Mr Choksi's other bankers, which then led to the freezing of all his accounts from February 2018. Mr Choksi's properties, including his houses, have been seized as well. His lawyers intend to contest this illegality as well," added his lawyer.

Mehul Choksi in his statement to India Today said that, "for 25 years, we strove to create an Indian jewelry brand that would rival the best in the world, and in two weeks the company was destroyed by the bloody mindedness of a cynical system."

It has been alleged by Mehul Choksi that despite no tangible proof, the PNB authorities, instigated by a panic-stricken chairman, Sunil Mehta, created a malicious case against a high-profile target-Gitanjali Diamonds and him.

"In the aftermath of the raids, all of Mr Choksi's 6,000 plus employees have left; his belongings and properties, along with his receivables and goods on consignment worth over Rs 10,000 crore, brand value of Rs 8000 crore, accumulated through ingenuity and hard work over three decades, are scattered with no way to recover them, given that his company servers have been confiscated," The statement said.

Indian investigative agencies however believe Mehul Choksi, who is in Antigua, defrauded the Punjab National Bank along with Nirav Modi. He is believed to be in Antigua and an extradition request from India is pending before the Antiguan government.

Also watch: PNB scam: Mehul Choksi moves plea, says can't come to India

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(Provided by Business Today)

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