New Delhi: Diamond trader Nirav Modi, accused of pulling off the country's biggest bank fraud, is no longer a part of India's billionaires club. Modi, who had featured in Forbes' 2017 rich list with a fortune of USD 1.8 billion, could not make the cut in this year's rankings.
"Nirav Modi is among the drop-offs from this year's the list, along with Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter, Christoffel Wiese of South Africa, and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud," Forbes said. Forbes said India's billionaire count has increased over last year.
According to Forbes, India is home to 119 billionaires, 18 more than last year and the total net worth of this elite club is USD 440.1 billion, a rise of USD 114.6 billion over the year ago period. This year's list consists of 2,043 of the richest people in the world. The combined net worth of this elite group is a whopping USD 9.1 trillion, up 18 per cent since last year.
Forbes' website describes Modi as the founder of Firestar Diamond, "which claimed to have more than USD 2 billion in sales. He later launched his own Nirav Modi Brand with 14 stores in such locations as Mumbai, Hong Kong, London, Macau and New York".
It further noted that "diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi was accused in February by state-owned Punjab National Bank of perpetrating a USD 1.8 billion fraud. He reportedly left India in January; India's Central Bureau of Investigation is asking Interpol to help locate him".
Modi reportedly said his companies owed much less and denied the fraud charges, it added. Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam recently came to light following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank of over Rs 12,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
The CBI and the ED have registered FIRs to probe the case and intensified the crackdown on Modi and Choksi, with the ED seizing jewellery and assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, the I-T department attaching various properties and the CBI grilling several senior executives of his company.