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Nirav Modi rejigs top management of his companies, hires American citizen as director



Nirav Modi – the alleged kingpin of the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank loan scam – may be on the run, but the crafty celebrity diamantaire could be plotting a secret strategy from Hong Kong after he became the target of a global manhunt.

An India Today TV investigation has revealed that, at least, three foreign firms controlled by Modi could be undergoing a major revamp.

Documents accessed by India Today show that Modi’s companies in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong have replaced their existing directors with a mystery American citizen named Anthony Allicock.

That’s not all – when an India Today team visited Allicock’s New Jersey house, the occupant said, “I can’t tell you who Mr Anthony is. He’s not in this residence.”

The haute jewellery designer’s business in the UK and Hong Kong is operated largely through Nirav Modi Ltd in the UK, and Firestar Diamond Limited and Nirav Modi Ltd in Hong Kong.

Modi controls these companies through another Hong Kong-based company named Firestar Holdings Ltd, which in turn is controlled by his Modi’s Indian company Firestar International Ltd.

Modi is the majority shareholder of Firestar International. Hong Kong’s Firestar further owns a majority stake in all the other three companies – Nirav Modi Ltd in the UK and Nirav Modi Limited and Firestar Diamond Limited.

According to the documents, the three foreign companies could just be quietly revamping their top management as the search for the fugitive diamond magnate expands.

Company filings reveal that the companies have informed regulators in their countries of operations about Allicock’s appointment as the sole director.

The UK’s Companies House was notified about Allicock’s appointment on March 20 whereas Hong Kong authorities were notified nine days later. Allicock is a US citizen with permanent residence in New Jersey, company filings show.

UK-based Nirav Modi Ltd had three directors – Angelina Nguyen, Mihir Bhansali and Ajay Gandhi. Nguyen is a French national with Hong Kong as her permanent place of residence.

Before her resignation on March 5, Nguyen held the position of director in Nirav Modi Ltd in the UK, Nirav Modi Ltd in Hong Kong and Firestar International Ltd in India. Modi himself is a director in Firestar International Ltd in India.

Bhansali is also the sole director of Modi’s US company Firestar Diamond Inc, which filed for bankruptcy in a New York court. Gandhi is the CEO and CFO of Firestar Diamond Inc. Both Gandhi and Bhansali resigned from the UK company board of Nirav Modi Limited on March 9.

Hong Kong-based Firestar Diamond had Bankim Mehta as its director before Allicock became the sole director of this company. Similarly, Allicock became the sole director of Nirav Modi Limited in Hong Kong.

Whether shareholding patterns of any of these companies were changed would only be known once they submit their annual returns.

“It appears that India’s most-wanted jewel thief Nirav Modi might be covering his tracks to secure his assets in the UK and Hong Kong. These are classic diversionary tactics used by businesses to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement agencies,” Delhi-based independent company secretary Ravi Bhushan told India Today TV.

The appointment of an American as the sole director of the three foreign companies when Modi is on the run raises doubts. Besides, the timing of this major revamp is also suspicious considering that Firestar Diamond Inc has already filed for bankruptcy. The sale hearing in this appeal is scheduled for April 15 in New York and auction will take place on May 3.

Story: Indiatoday.in

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