Mehul Choksi’s properties are money laundering assets: PMLA Authority

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NEW DELHI: A designated PMLA authority has held that 41 properties worth about Rs 1,210 crore, attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the name of absconding diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi and his associated firms, are money laundering assets and ordered that their attachment should continue.The central probe agency had provisionally attached 15 flats and 17 office premises in Mumbai, a mall in Kolkata, a four-acre farm house in Alibaug and 231 acres of land at locations like Nashik, Nagpur, Panvel in Maharashtra and Villu puram in Tamil Nadu, in February this year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the about $2 billion alleged fraud at a Mumbai-based branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB).“Considering the material in the original complaint (by the ED).. I find that immovable properties provisionally attached are all involved in money laundering.
“I, therefore, hereby confirm the attachment of properties…and order that the said attachment shall continue during investigation for a period not exceeding ninety days or the pendency of proceedings relating to any offence under the PMLA before a court and become final after an order of confiscation is passed by the special court,” a recent order issued by Member (Law) of the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA, Tushar V Shah, said in a recent order.The Authority is a quasi-judicial body that adjudicates over PMLA attachment of assets made by the ED.Official sources said the ED will now move to seize these properties and put up its possession signages at these locations.The central-probe agency had issued a provisional order for attachment of these assets as part of its criminal probe against Choksi, his company Gitanjali Gems Limited and associated firms and their associates, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).The attached assets included a 170-acre park in Hyderabad’s Ranga Reddy district valued at over Rs 500 crore.