Estranged diamond merchant and millionaire jeweler Nirav Modi has written a letter to Punjab National Bank (PNB) wherein he has denied any wrongdoing and has blamed the bank’s overzealousness for restricting his ability to repay the loans.
According to media reports that accessed this letter apparently written last week, Modi told PNB officials that his company’s liability is actually much lesser than the Rs. 11,000 crore that is being claimed by extensive media coverage on this issue in the last few days. He claimed in the letter that he owes only about Rs. 5,000 crore.
Modi said that he had previously requested the bank to either sell or allow him to sell assets belonging to one of his companies, Firestar Group, which was valued at Rs. 6,500 crore and could have helped reduce or discharge his debts.
“However, the erroneous liability resulted from a media frenzy led to immediate search and seizure operations, which has in turn resulted in Firestar International Pvt. Ltd. and Firestar Diamond International Pvt. Ltd. effectively ceasing to be going concerns. This has jeopardized our means to discharge the dues of the group to the banks,” said the letter.
He also said, “In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offers, your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts. Whatever may be the consequences I may face for my actions, the haste was, in my humble submission, unwarranted.”
Modi also slammed the bank for involving his brother and some other family members into the issue. He said that since operations of his companies have been affected by searches and seizures, the bank must now pay salaries for 2,200 employees from balance lying in their current accounts.
PNB’s CEO Sunil Mehta had earlier said that Nirav has made some “vague” offers for repayment of the loan but they are unacceptable to the bank. CBI and Enforcement Directorate have led a large scale crackdown on Modi’s businesses in furtherance of their investigations.