Accordingly, the Debt Recovery Tribunal-I (DRT-I), Mumbai, Recovery Officer Ashu Kumar last Thursday ordered the re-auction of the two flats owned by Modi and others in one of the cases filed by Punjab National Bank (PNB) -- but at a slashed rate now.
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The e-auction of these properties is considered another desperate attempt to recover a part of the PNB's staggering dues of nearly Rs 11,777 crore, calculated till March 20, 2023.
Incidentally, the PNBs figure of outstanding was Rs 11,653 crore till February 2023 which has increased by Rs 124 crore.
The assets to be e-auctioned are: two adjoining flats (Nos. 1601 & 1602) on the F1 building, 16th floor of the YOOPUNE housing scheme at Hadapsar, Pune, measuring 398 sq. metres and 395 sq. metres.
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The PNB has set a reserve price of Rs 8.10 crore (down from Rs 8.99 crore) and Rs 8.04 crore (down from Rs 8.93 crore), for the two flats, respectively, which shall go under the e-hammer on March 20.
The DRT-I has issued an auction notice on February 9 to the defaulter companies: Stellar Diamonds, Solar Exports, Diamond R US, ANM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, NDM Enterprises Pvt. Ltd.
Besides these companies, the others named are their promoters, owners, directors like Nirav D. Modi, Ami Nirav Modi, Rohin N. Modi, Ananya N. Modi, Apasha N. Modi, Purvi Mayank Mehta, Deepak K. Modi, Neeshal D. Modi and Nehal D. Modi, who have been issued notices as certified debtors owing a whopping Rs 7,029-crore to the PNB.
The e-auction may help the PNB and a consortium of around 15 other banks recover a tiny portion of their massive dues, unpaid for the past five years since the country's mega-banking scam was admitted in February 2018, a month after Nirav, his wife Ami and others fled India.
After the PNB's complaint on the estimated scam of over Rs 14,000-crore, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered the first offences in January 2018 and others like Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax Department (ITD) also entered the picture.
The targets of the central probe agencies were the two prime accused -- Nirav D. Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul C. Choksi -- both having flown the coop well before the scam erupted and shook the foundations of India's banking sector.
Later, it came to light that Modi was holed up in London and Choksi had cosily settled as a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda Isles in the West Indies, both awaiting their extradition to India -- probably, soon.
On the upcoming e-auction, the PNB said it is not aware if these two properties have any liabilities, encumbrances, dues, or any claims made on them and shall be on 'As is where is basis' and 'As is what is basis', as usual.
In the past, the ED-ITD have managed to auction off certain movable and immovable assets -- certain properties, expensive paintings, artefacts, high-end vehicles, etc., -- to recover small parts of the banks' dues.