Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How Many Billionaires Will Get Away While India’s ‘Chowkidar’ Looks On?

Has the Narendra Modi bubble burst? Was the spectacular Ponzi scheme run by Nirav Modi – in which an estimated fraud of Rs 11,400 crore was committed in connivance with officials of the Punjab National Bank – the final jab in his much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign?
Narendra Modi was the self-proclaimed “chowkidar (guard)” of the public’s money on his campaign run as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and had promised to “end the loot of public money”. Yet, even after Nirav Modi  and his family including his wife, younger brother Neeshal Modi and uncle Mehul Choksi left the country, he managed a photograph with the prime minister in Davos. The PMO had also not acted on a whistleblower letter with extensive details about the shenanigans of the Choksi-Modi duo, which was sent in 2016.
Interestingly, the Central Bureau of Investigation only registered a case against Nirav Modi on January 29, the day after the Davos summit ended. Was this a coincidence? Nirav had left the country on January 1. His wife left the country on January 6; Mehul Choksi left on January 4.
Nirav Modi’s picture with the CEO delegation posing with the prime minister was tweeted by both the Ministry of External Affairs and PMO Twitter handles. The MEA chose to go with a glowing header: “Together we can! PM narendramodi with Indian CEOs present at the WorldEconomicForum working hand-in-hand towards a brighter future for the country.”
The government launched a high-decibel damage control exercise, with ministers claiming that Nirav Modi was not a part of the PMO delegation but just snuck into the picture. This claim does not wash, as nobody can casually access the Indian prime minister and accost him, either in India or abroad.
The Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards the prime minister around the clock keeps the area immediately around him “sanitised”, and only those who have been security cleared and whose identity has been established are allowed anywhere near. In any case, for a staged photo-op where even the chairs were laid in advance, it was impossible for Nirav Modi to just photobomb. Interestingly, his uncle Choksi attended a jewellers event at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, where the prime minister referred to him as “Mehul bhai.
The above is from The Wire

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