Fugitive absconder Nirav Modi had tried to get a citizenship of Vanuatu, an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, three months before the PNB scam came in public light, The Indian Express reported.
According to the report, the billionaire diamond jeweller had transferred $195,000 to an authorised agent of the Vanuatu government from his personal account. The island nation offers second or dual citizenship under its Citizenship by Investment program. Foreigners can become citizens through investment by giving a fee of $160,000 per person with an additional fee of $5,000 for FIU due diligence.
After Modi deposited the amount, a subsequent intelligence check was done by the Vanuatu government, after which the government unearthed "adverse findings" against the businessman. This resulted in the Vanuatu government rejecting Modi's request for a citizenship of the island nation off northern Australia.
"The purpose of the $195,000 was to pay the application fee for honorary Vanuatu citizenship. However, a Government Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) probity check found adverse findings against Mr Modi. Therefore his application was not considered by the Government," the daily quoted Justin Ngwele, managing partner of Vanuatu-based law firm Indigene Lawyers, as saying. The firm had processed Modi's application as one of the 18 authorised agents of the Vanuatu government.
Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are wanted by multiple agencies for cheating the state-run Punjab National Bank of Rs 13,600 crore through fraudulent issue of letters of understanding and foreign letters of credit.
Choksi had on Tuesday and Wednesday, released two consecutive video statements saying that the charges levelled against him by the Enforcement Directorate were false and baseless. He had also shown concern about the future of the employees and shareholders of his company Gitanjali Jewellery since the company had been shut following a CBI case against Choksi.