India’s most wanted diamantaire Nirav Modi may have made a quiet exit from his Hong Kong business, documents accessed by India Today revealed.
Nirav Modi’s Firestar International Private Limited which was registered as a Non Hong Kong Company informed the Hong Kong authorities through their company secretary Suresh Kumar Bhutani that their company had ceased to have Hong Kong as a place of business.
According to ‘The Notice of Cessation of Place of Business’ accessed by India Today, which was filed on December 12 last year but notified to Hong Kong Companies Registry on January 19 this year, Modi’s Firestar International Private Limited has ceased to have its business in Hong Kong.
This is the only company related to Nirav Modi which filed such notice recently. While other Hong Kong based companies associated with Nirav Modi such as Nirav Modi Limited, Nirav Modi HK Limited, Firestar Diamond Limited and Firestar Holding Limited don’t have Nirav Modi either as a director or as a person with significant control.
This leads to suspicion that India’s number one jewel thief may have wrapped up his business in Hong Kong and moved his money to another place well before Indian investigative agencies could reach there.
All these companies have a common Hong Kong address: 21 – 23, 2 / F New Henry House, 10 Ice House Street, Central Hong Kong.
While officials at Hong Kong’s company registry refused to make a formal comment on this, one official asked India Today to go through a press statement issued by the Hong Kong registry which read, “In an effort to enhance Hong Kong’s regulatory regime for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, a new licensing regime for trust or company service providers (TCSPs) and new requirements on the keeping of Significant Controllers Registers by companies took effect on March 1.”
According to this new order “All Hong Kong companies (except listed companies) are required to ascertain and maintain up-to-date beneficial ownership information by way of keeping a Significant Controllers Register. The Register should be open for inspection by law enforcement officers upon demand” the statement said.
Clearly the new laws adopted by Hong Kong authorities would make it tough for people to hide their money behind shell companies.
According to documents accessed from Hong Kong authorities, Bankim Madhu Mehta who holds an Indian passport and lives in New Jersey, USA is the sole director of Hong Kong based Firestar Diamond Limited and also holds the position of director at Firestar Holdings Limited.
FIRMS WITNESSING RESTRUCTURING
While Nirav Modi continues to live in hiding, some of the foreign companies associated with him are witnessing restructuring.
According to documents accessed by India Today, a French national named Angelina Nguyen who is a director of Nirav Modi’s Indian company Firestar International Limited has recently resigned from the directorship of UK based Nirav Modi Limited and Hong Kong based Nirav Modi HK Limited.
While 58-year-old Nguyen resigned from the UK firm on March5, 2018, her resignation to two Hong Kong based Nirav Modi related companies was received on February 27 this year, indicating that the resignations happened days after the news that the bank fraud came up.
Another firm associated with Nirav Modi in France named Nirav Modi Limited filed an application under article R 123-54 with the French authorities on March 10 which according to French laws “deals with appointment and terminations of an official associated with the company who is authorized to enter into legally binding commitments”.
While the details of this notification is awaited, it’s good enough to establish another restructuring in another foreign based Nirav Modi company.
So while brand Nirav Modi may continue to do business in Hong Kong and elsewhere, the man behind the brand might well be miles away and Indian investigative agencies will find it equally tough to trace Nirav’s money as Nirav Modi himself.