It has all the elements of a Hollywood heist movie: A well-known jeweler-to-the-stars and his shady accomplice. A risky gambit to exploit a banking loophole. Inside help from a high-ranking official. A $2 billion swindle. And the whole house of cards crashing down in spectacular, front-page fashion.
But here’s the Bollywood twist: The well-known jeweler is Nirav Modi. The high-ranking official is Gokulnath Shetty, deputy manager of the Punjab National Bank. And the amount pilfered is 11,700 crore rupees.
For those not in the know, Nirav Modi is known as the bold upstart who bought up a slew of top-shelf diamonds in the depths of the 2008 economic crisis and made a fortune designing and selling his own line of “haute diamantaire” for the Hollywood glitterati. Read any rundown of the red carpet in recent years and you’re likely to read descriptions of Ms. So-and-so wearing a “dazzling Nirav Modi statement necklace” or some such twaddle.
But Modi’s zero-to-hero, “Mumbai boy makes it big” story came to a crashing halt last month when India’s Central Bureau of Investigation unveiled a complaint from Punjab National Bank alleging a multi-billion dollar swindle run by Modi and his business partner, Mehul Choksi. Soon, Indian authorities were sealing off Modi’s expensive properties, seizing his diamond inventories, and beginning a game of “Where In The World Is Nirav Modi?” that took several eyebrow-raising twists and turns, including the tidbit that his last known public appearance was at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
So what was the swindle, exactly?
Find out the details of India’s largest-ever bank fraud and what it could mean for the future of our biometrically-“secured” banks of the future in this week’s Corbett Report Subscriber newsletter.
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