Vipul Ambani, diamantaire Nirav Modi ’s high-profile aide, who is accused in the Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has filed a bail application before the Bombay High Court citing illegal detention by the CBI. The court has issued a notice to CBI. The court will hear the bail plea on March 27. The bail application states that Ambani was called on February 18 by the CBI for investigation. He appeared before the agency on the same day at 7.30 pm. The application says he was not asked any questions and was made to sit for the entire day. He was then asked to leave and return the next day at 11 am. He visited the CBI office the next day, but was not allowed to go home that day, and was kept in the CBI office throughout the night, the bail application stated.
After spending the whole day at the CBI office, on February 20, Ambani was shown as arrested at 8.15 pm. The application states that Ambani was “illegally arrested” and not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. On February 21, he was produced before the Special CBI court. The court remanded Ambani in 14 days of CBI custody. On March 5, the court remanded him in judicial custody till March 19. Ambani contented, “the applicant has been arrested and illegally detained and kept in custody beyond the constitutionally mandated period of 24 hours, thereby violating the constitutional rights of the applicant.” Ambani has been charged with criminal conspiracy read with cheating of the IPC and under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI, in the remand application, had said that Ambani was aware of the fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) made to the bank. CBI said that applications for such letters were made from Ambani’s south-central Mumbai office. CBI also said Ambani was “directly involved” and that “there was deliberate act of omission on his part by not protesting the issuance of fraudulent LoUs”.
On Ambani’s role in the fraud, the CBI said, “He, being the head of the finance department of the aforesaid companies of Nirav Modi group, from May 2013 to November 2017 and thereafter president (Investor Relations & Corporate Affairs) was fully aware of the fraudulent and illegal LoUs which were issued by Gokulnath Shetty, Retd Dy. Manager of PNB, Brady House branch, Mumbai, in conspiracy and guidance of Nirav Modi and other employees. Ambani in his aforesaid capacity as president (finance) also visited and met not only the officials of PNB, Brady House, Mumbai in the branch but also officials of PNB, circle and zonal office at Mumbai and head office in Delhi,” the remand application reads.
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