Mumbai: Bollywood celebrities Rishi Kapoor, Richa Chadha and Vivek Agnihotri have raised questions about the major banking fraud carried out by billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi, who left the country in January.
Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, known for his quirky tweets on political issues, wrote on Friday: “What I cannot understand is that a bank loans Rs 11,300 crore ( $1.8 billion) since 2011 to someone, and no inquiries took place during that period? Only proves ‘All that sparkle are not diamonds’. Lot of skeletons in the cupboard and lots of hands in lots of gloves!”
Actress Richa Chadha commented: “Bro! We pay 30.9 per cent income tax, 18 per cent GST and VAT on everything we buy. But Nirav Modi gets way with Rs 11,000 crore. My CA won’t be happy, but why the hell should I pay tax? So someone steals and gets away with it again?”
The news of the fraud in a Mumbai branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) broke out on February 14. Questions are being raised on who let the jeweller — whose creations have been worn by the likes of Hollywood biggies Kate Winslet and Dakota Johnson — to leave the country.
Photographer and producer Atul Kasbekar and ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan shared an SMS that is doing the rounds in the midst of the news about the scam.
“Finding NiMo — movie by Punjab National Bank,” they tweeted.
Filmmaker Sangeeth Sivan shared another SMS via Twitter: “There is a new entry in the dictionary to describe the way scamsters operate… It’s called ‘Modis operandi”.
“Ra.One” director Anubhav Sinha asked one “quick, cute, innocent question” — “Was Nirav Modi’s bank account linked to his Aadhaar.”
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri has three “simple” questions — “Why are these corrupt businessmen fleeing the country, despite a friendly Narendra Modi as PM? Why didn’t they flee earlier when their Enemy No. 1, honest Sonia Gandhi was ruling the country? Where is Raghuram Rajan these days?”
Even writer Devdutt Pattanaik made his point.
“Those who don’t care for the law are always loyal to the KING. Those who care for the law always loyal to the KINGDOM. Notice: Political parties of India (and their NRI cheerleaders) are loyal to individuals and families rather than the country.
“Banks collect citizen’s money. They give it to rich people as loan. Rich run abroad without repaying. Governments let them escape. Could it be as they fund political parties? We will never know. Political parties not obliged to reveal income source, remember, unlike citizen.”
Author Chetan Bhagat said: “Can PNB properly explain what the scam or fraud is here? If you have given LoCs without collateral, that’s just stupid. The person you are giving it, to will take it. How is it fraud? Be brave and tell us what stupidities have you done.”
Meanwhile, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, the global brand ambassador for Nirav Modi, is seeking legal opinion to terminate her contract after the jeweller was accused of committing the fraud.
Actor Sidharth Malhotra too had associated with the brand, but his contract had ended last year. There has been talk that he too has been contemplating legal action against the designer and the brand, but his team has denied this.
“Speculation around Sidharth Malhotra taking legal action against Nirav Modi and his diamond brand is incorrect. Sidharth’s contract with Nirav Modi’s diamond brand ended last year, and the actor has not been involved with the brand since,” read a statement issued by his team.