New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested that Mainak Mehta, brother-in-law of fugitive Nirav Modi, should consider providing the CBI a letter of authority to access his offshore bank accounts.
The CBI has alleged that Mehta has received a large sum of money siphoned off in the PNB fraud scam, where Modi is the key accused. The investigative agency also alleged that Mehta transferred the money to his and his wife’s offshore bank accounts.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud suggested Mehta’s counsel that he can give the letter of authority to an official designated by the CBI for accessing the bank details and the matter will end, and if not, then the court will have to take up CBI’s plea and decide it.
The CBI’s counsel submitted that Mehta had refused to give the letter of authority and as a result, the agency had to get letters rogatory (LRs) issued. “No response on LR has been received. We have written to the embassy (in Singapore) to pursue it,” counsel said.
The CBI’s counsel further argued that they apprehend that a huge amount of money has gone into those accounts and Mehra is a foreign national and his wife is a Belgian national, and once he leaves the country, he will not come back. Mehta is a British national who lives in Hong Kong with his family.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing Mehta, submitted that his client has been in India for a long time and he had always co-operated and false allegations have been made by the CBI. He added that his client is willing to give the letter of authority but then he will have to stay in India for another year, and emphasised that his client should be allowed to go for some time.
The top court noted that allowing Mehta to travel out of the country would mean the dismissal of the CBI’s appeal without a hearing and added that the court cannot compel Mehta to give the letter of authority to the CBI. After hearing arguments, the top court listed the matter for further hearing on February 9.
The apex court was hearing CBI’s plea challenging the August last year order of the Bombay High Court which had allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong and stay there for three months.