In an unprecedented action, India’s external agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has now been entrusted with the responsibility to use its resources and influence to “bring back” Nirav Modi and his relative Mehul Choksi who have fled from India after their names surfaced as the main kingpins in the Rs 11,400crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.
Sources said that Nirav Modi is most likely to be in Switzerland or one of the 26 Schengen countries, while Choksi was most likely in Dubai. Highly placed sources within the government said that the Government of India—learning the bitter lessons that it faced in similar cases of businessman Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, who too fled from the country after committing crimes and have since been out of reach of the government—was ready to use all the resources at its disposal to make sure that Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi do not become additional names in the list headed by Mallya and Lalit Modi. According to sources, the government was aware that the legal recourse that it will have to go through to bring back these two individuals, who fled the country just before the scam “broke”, was a long one with an unpredictable result. Both these individuals are said to have the cushion of residing in another country, either through citizenship or residency, and hence the suspension of their Indian passport was not a big setback for them.
The multi-billionaire Nirav Modi has already consulted at least two US-based law firms who cater to the rich and famous on how he should fight this “legal battle”. Sources said that RAW, whose influence across the world is a well-kept secret, has been given the mandate to use all means necessary and make sure that these two individuals are brought in front of the law as soon as possible. “The mandate is to bring them so that they can face the law; how and where it is to be done, is something that will depend on multiple things,” a source aware of the development said. The main investigation in the massive scam is being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation which has approached the Interpol earlier this week to locate Nirav Modi.