Mumbai court dismisses Choksi's plea in ICICI property case

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Mumbai court dismisses Choksi's plea in ICICI property case
Credit: © Reuters.

MUMBAI - A Mumbai special court has ruled against Mehul Choksi, the fugitive businessman, in a case concerning ICICI Bank (NS: ICBK )'s claim over mortgaged assets. Special Judge S M Menjoge, who presides over Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) matters, clarified today that Choksi has no standing in the bank's application to release properties worth Rs 636 crore. These properties are linked to various companies such as Rohan Mercantile Pvt Ltd and Gitanjali Infratech, which have been involved in the Punjab National Bank (NS: PNBK ) (PNB) fraud case since November 2022. They do not include Choksi's personal assets like his south Mumbai flats and Alibaug bungalow.

Choksi, currently based in Antigua, is implicated in the PNB scam, accused of defrauding the bank of over Rs 13,500 crore through fraudulent financial instruments. The court's decision today underscores Choksi's inability to intervene in the matter as the properties in question are not personally owned by him but are instead company-linked.

The ongoing investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI (NS: CBI )) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the PNB fraud case continue. Choksi, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, allegedly used fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to siphon off funds from PNB, marking one of the largest banking scams in Indian history.

In light of the court's ruling today, ICICI Bank's efforts to reclaim the mortgaged assets, unrelated to Choksi's personal holdings, are expected to proceed without his interference. The legal proceedings are a significant step in the bank's attempt to recover the mortgaged assets amidst the larger backdrop of the PNB scam and the fugitives' evasion of the Indian legal system.

In a related development today, Preeti Choksi, wife of Mehul Choksi, filed a rejoinder against an ED warrant served at their vacated Mumbai residence. Both Mehul and Preeti Choksi are now residing in Antigua. The hearing for Preeti Choksi's case is scheduled for next month.

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