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Gitanjali Chief Tells Staff to Find New Jobs

Mehul Choksi Maintains Innocence in Letter to Employees

Feb 25, 2018 8:46 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Gitanjali Gems managing director Mehul Choksi has told the company’s employees to look for another job, as asset seizures have made it impossible to pay salaries, The Times of India reported.

Indian authorities are investigating Choksi (pictured) and his nephew, fellow jewelry tycoon Nirav Modi, after Punjab National Bank claimed the pair defrauded it of $1.8 billion. The executives colluded with a bank official to obtain unauthorized loans, according to the state lender.

“I will face my destiny, and I know I have done nothing wrong,” Choksi said in a letter to Gitanjali staff, which The Times of India reported on Saturday. He noted a “situation of fear and injustice” affecting him and his firm, and expressed his “helplessness” to pay outstanding salaries, as investigators have seized his bank accounts and other assets, the report continued.

The jeweler’s 3,500 workers will get their money when Choksi proves his innocence and the situation returns to normal, the Mumbai-based newspaper quoted him as saying.

“I am facing a lot of problems due to the manner in which the multiple investigative agencies [and] government agencies have started to create…havoc, hell-bent upon stopping the operations,” he added in the letter. He fears for his and his family’s safety due to unfair investigations and media coverage, he continued.

Choksi’s lawyer, Sanjay Abbot, who released the letter, has “no idea” where his client is, according to the report. Abbot was unavailable for comment to Rapaport News on Sunday.

India’s Enforcement Directorate is investigating about 144 companies associated with Choksi and Modi to assess whether the pair used any of those firms to launder money, The Times of India reported the same day.

The agency also froze a bank account and corporate shares belonging to Modi, seized hundreds of luxury watches from a warehouse connected to him, and started inspecting other expensive items at four apartments of his in Mumbai, the report said.

Gitanjali’s shares fell 34% last week, and have slumped more than 60% since the scandal broke two weeks ago.
Tags: Enforcement Directorate, fraud, Gitanjali, Gitanjali Gems, Gitanjali Group, India, Jewelry, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi, Rapaport News, retail, Sanjay Abbot, The Times of India
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