The international jewellery business that’s part of the empire controlled by Nirav Modi, a billionaire accused of masterminding India’s biggest bank fraud, has filed for bankruptcy in the US just as the Indian lender revised up its fraud estimate.
Firestar Diamond Inc. blamed liquidity and supply chain challenges and listed up to $100 million in assets and debt, according to Chapter 11 documents filed Monday in a bankruptcy court in New York. Back in India, Punjab National Bank (PNB) told the stock exchanges that the fraudulent transactions could be $204 million more than the previously estimated $1.8 billion.
Firestar isn’t linked to the complaints filed by authorities, the company said in a 5 February email sent through an external spokeswoman. US representatives for the companies didn’t respond to a message seeking comment. The Indian banks who’ve reported exposure to the fraud didn’t reply to emails sent Tuesday in Mumbai.
Modi, a jeweller who’s dressed actresses, including Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra, has been accused along with Mehul Choksi of defrauding PNB. PNB alleges that the duo and their associates worked with some rogue PNB employees and used fake guarantees to obtain loans from abroad.
The bankruptcy filing includes Firestar’s A.Jaffe wedding jewellery affiliate and Fantasy Inc. affiliate. The company’s diamond operations span US, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, according to its website.livemint