Meet Nirav Modi, the celebrity jewellery designer accused in a Rs 280 crore money-laundering case by Punjab National Bank

The ED on Thursday conducted multiple searches in connection with a Rs 280 crore money laundering case against billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and others following a complaint by PNB.

Published: 15th February 2018 04:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2018 08:00 PM   |  A+A-

Nirav Modi (Photo | Indulge Express)

By Online Desk

The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday conducted multiple searches in connection with a Rs 280 crore money laundering case against billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and others following a complaint by state-owned Punjab National Bank. Here are a few things about the business baron that you'd like to know.

  • The 46-year-old was born into a Gujarati family of diamond merchants. His grandfather Keshavlal Modi was among the first generation of Indians to settle in Singapore, according to Fortune India. His father later shifted to Belgium and entered into the trade of rough diamonds.

  • Nirav Modi spent 18 years of his life in Belgium, visiting India from time to time. He went to Antwerp International School, Belgium and later joined the Wharton School under the University of Pennsylvania, where he chose to major in Japanese and International Finance. However, he later dropped out of college to join his father's business.

  • At 19, he joined his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, chairman of Gitanjali Gems (also under the scanner over fraud allegations made by Punjab National Bank, along with Nirav Modi) to study the workings of the diamond trading business. 

  • He spent about 10 years learning about the business before launching his first major venture in 1999 - the Firestone brand. Later it was renamed Firestar.

  • In 2004, the brand's revenue crossed Rs 400 crore, giving him the confidence to enter jewellery manufacturing and distribution.

  • In 2005, he acquired the 57-year old American jewellery manufacturing company Frederick Goldman's wholesale division. He followed it up by acquiring Sandberg & Sikorski, the largest jewellery supplier to the US Armed Forces in 2007; it has shops in all US Defence bases, according to an Economic Times report.

  • Nirav also sealed an agreement with Alrosa, a Russian group of diamond-mining companies that mined the world's largest volume of diamonds in 2009.

  • In 2010, the 'Nirav Modi' brand was launched and the same year he became the first Indian jeweller to have been featured on the covers of catalogues of Christie’s and Sotheby’s - the New York-based British MNC that is among the world's largest brokers of jewellery, decorative art, real estate etc.

  • In 2013, Nirav Modi debuted on the Forbes list of Indian billionaires and has been featured every year on the list ever since.

  • In 2014, he opened his first flagship store at Defence Colony, New Delhi, followed by a 6,000 sq. ft. store in South Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda in 2015. 

  • In 2015, the inauguration of his first store in New York’s Madison Avenue was attended by the current US President Donald Trump,  Fortuner India reported. 

  • Former Miss World and Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai, supermodel Lisa Haydon, and English actor-producer Naomi Watts have been the style icons of Modi's brands along with British Academy Award-winning actor Kate Winslet. The global chain also roped in Quantico-fame Priyanka Chopra to represent them in 2017.

  • His office is located at Kamla Mills in South Mumbai’s Lower Parel commercial neighbourhood.

  • According to officials, Nirav Modi is out of the country currently. He had left the country on January 1 much before the CBI received a complaint from Punjab National Bank on January 29 about a Rs 280-crore fraud.

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