A billionaire jeweler whose diamonds are worn by top Hollywood stars including Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts is accused of being behind a $1.8billion fraud.
Nirav Modi, one of India’s richest men, is said to have fled the country with his diamond merchant business partner Mehul Choksi.
The pair are accused of defrauding the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) out of the enormous sum.
Nirav Modi, one of India’s richest men, is said to have fled the country with his diamond merchant business partner Mehul Choksi after allegedly defrauding the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) out of $1.8billion
His luxury diamonds are worn by numerous top Hollywood stars (above Kate Winslet shows off her Nirav Modi pieces at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2016)
Naomi Watts is also a Nirav Modi fan (pictured with him at his Madison Avenue store opening in New York)
The Hollywood actress dazzled in the jewelery tycoon’s luxury diamonds
Their passports have been suspended and the country’s financial crimes agency is investigating the allegations.
A money laundering case has been registered by the authorities against Modi, who owns powerhouse jewelery brand Firestar Diamond.
The company’s website appears to have gone offline.
Authorities searched Modi’s Mumbai offices on Thursday, a day after PNB said it had detected fraud of almost $1.8billion (£1.2billion) at a brand in the city.
Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss wears Nirav Modi as she walks the Oscars red carpet last year
The 47-year-old, the third generation of his family to go into the diamond trade, is worth $1.73billion according to Forbes, placing him 85th on India’s rich list.
He is the owner of 17 exclusive jewelery boutiques across the world, with branches in Asia, India, America and the UK.
Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Modi and Choksi’s passports had been suspended for four weeks and would be revoked if they did not provide a response.
‘If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA (foreign ministry) will go ahead with the revocation,’ Kumar said in a statement.
The billionaire jeweler, one of India’s richest men, is said to have fled the country with his diamond merchant business partner Mehul Choksi (above Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra models his expensive designs on a billboard in New Delhi, India, this month)
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday carried out raids on more properties connected to the pair and said it had contacted Interpol to track down Modi.
‘We’ve reached out to Interpol with a request for a diffusion notice to track down Nirav Modi today,’ said CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal.
Modi has not commented on the allegations. Firestar Diamond previously said the case was not connected to the company.