Indian jeweler's bankrupt US firm whets buyer interest amid probe | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 02, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 02, 2018

Indian jeweler's bankrupt US firm whets buyer interest amid probe

Potential buyers have expressed strong early interest in a bankrupt US firm of Indian jeweler Nirav Modi, who has been accused of involvement in a $2 billion bank fraud in India, court filings show.

Firestar Diamond Inc filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 26 in the United States, following accusations that other firms led by Modi and his uncle colluded with officials of state-run Punjab National Bank to secure unauthorised loans between 2011 and 2017, mostly from the overseas branches of Indian state banks.

Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, owner of Gitanjali Gems Ltd, left India in January before the fraud came to light, but have said in letters and statements they are innocent.

Indian investigators have, however, attached or seized assets belonging to Modi and his companies. Firestar is not named in the police complaint.

“Early expressions of interest in purchasing some or all of the debtors' business operations have been strong,” Firestar Diamond said in a court filing on Wednesday.

It has also told secured lenders it was in discussions with lenders for debtor-in-possession financing as it weighed options.

Firestar Diamond and its affiliates had annual sales of around $90 million, with clients such as Costco Wholesale, Macy's and JC Penney Co Inc, it said.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested at least 13 people, seven from the bank and six from Modi and Choksi's companies. Investigators have also seized a number of properties from the two, including jewelry and luxury vehicles.

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